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The profitable nature of solar power in Spain has given rise to strange installation locations, such as this plant which towers over a cemetary.  (Source: AP)
Spain has found a controversial way to boost solar adoption

When it comes to solar power, the real dilemmas are efficiency and cost.  On the one hand, efficiency has steadily improved over the last couple decades to the point where it’s approaching the utility prices of other power generation methods.  Exotic technologies promise even greater gains.  However, the price of solar-generated power still remains at least five times as expensive as coal-power, the chief source of power in the U.S. (compared to the leading candidate, nuclear, which is approximately 1.5 to 2 times as expensive).

While solar adoption from a cost standpoint is unattractive, there's much debate over whether commercial adoption is needed to spur further research to propel solar into the realm of cost competitiveness.  While many nations like the U.S. and China have modestly taken this position, adopting solar at a moderate rate, one nation has fallen head over heels for solar -- Spain.

Spain is allowing solar and wind power plants to charge as much as 10 times the rates of coal power plants, making it possible for solar power installations to earn utilities big money.  On average, recent rate increases have raised solar charges to over 7 times the rates of coal or natural gas rates.   The costs are added onto consumers' power bills.

The results are mixed; while Spanish power bills are at record highs, the number of deployments is soaring.  Spain has 14 GW of solar power, or the equivalent capacity of nine average nuclear reactors, under construction -- the most of any nation.  Florida’s FPL Group Inc. and French Electricite de France SA are among the many jumping to build in Spain.

Gabriel Calzada, an economist and professor at Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid, states, "Who wouldn’t want to enter a business that’s paid many times more than the market rate, and where the customer is guaranteed for life?"

By 2009, 42 percent of Spaniards energy bills -- approximately 95 euros ($127) on average -- will be provided by alternative energy.  Spanish law requires power distributors to buy all clean energy produced in the first 25 years of the plants' lives.  The government also recently raised the rate of Spain believes this sacrifice will pay off as fossil fuel resources become depleted and emissions standards tighten.

Karsten von Blumenthal, an industrial analyst at Hamburg-based SES Research GmbH states, "The guarantee is more attractive than what other countries offer.  Actually the U.S. has better space for solar, in the deserts of California and Nevada."

The U.S. meanwhile is also advancing thanks in part to President Obama's solar initiatives passed earlier this year as part of the federal stimulus legislation.  Over 6 GW of capacity is planned for the U.S.

Fred Morse, an official at the Washington- based Solar Energy Industries Association trade group and author of the first report to the White House on solar power (1969), says that the U.S. needs to adopt more incentives if it hopes to catch Spain.  He states, "The incentives, if implemented promptly and effectively, should greatly facilitate the financing of these plants."

One promising benefit of the Spanish solar boom is that it is increasing the number of plants utilizing new, potentially more efficient technologies like solar thermal or sterling engines.  Spain is limiting the number of photovoltaic plants (solar panel-based designs), but is giving out unlimited licenses for solar thermal and other alternative plants.



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Today
By FITCamaro on 5/13/2009 8:41:01 AM , Rating: 2
Europe is just filled with all kinds of retards.

Idiot #1:"Hey I've got a great idea."
Idiot #2: "What?"
Idiot #1: "Let's push solar by making consumers pay 7x as much!"
Idiot #2: "Brilliant!"
Other guy: "Why not just use nuclear which is also clean, 7x cheaper?, and doesn't use massive amounts of land in our beautiful countryside?"
Idiot #1&2: "Shut up."




RE: Today
By flyboy84 on 5/13/09, Rating: 0
RE: Today
By FITCamaro on 5/13/2009 8:58:24 AM , Rating: 2
Yet we're talking about Spain. Not France. I'm well aware of France's nuclear usage.

The comment was more because of both this article and the UK one.


RE: Today
By JasonMick (blog) on 5/13/09, Rating: -1
RE: Today
By Bateluer on 5/13/2009 9:36:05 AM , Rating: 4
Just replace the word 'idiot' with bureaucrat and it instantly becomes very accurate.


RE: Today
By oab on 5/13/2009 9:42:04 AM , Rating: 4
The UK is in the European Union and have been since 1973.

The UK does not use the Euro as its currency, as it has a bit of aloofness regarding the EU, though they are part of the European Parliament, and voting is going on for that right now.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/europe/2009/el...

http://europa.eu/abc/european_countries/eu_members...


RE: Today
By JasonMick (blog) on 5/13/09, Rating: -1
RE: Today
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 5/13/2009 2:55:58 PM , Rating: 3
Well, to back you up for once, since the UK does not have judicial review of legislation (the House of Lords is the highest legislative body AND the highest judicial body) they practically are not in the EU since they have a problem with EU mandated legistalive requirements that can't be overruled by the House of Lords, and House of Lords legislation and decisions that can be overruled by the EU judiciary. Very sticky.


RE: Today
By aegisofrime on 5/13/2009 10:01:20 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
France is leading the world with some of the most advanced nuclear power designs (along with France).
?


RE: Today
By knutjb on 5/14/2009 12:53:22 AM , Rating: 2
That's why so many people died last summer from the heat. There wasn't enough water to run the plants and they didn't have much in the way of alternatives. All steam plants require large amounts of water regardless of the heat source. Over here our overload is usually supplemented with gas turbines to soften the peaks. I will give France a lot of credit with their nuke program, they have a standardized plant so they share parts lowering the building and operational costs.


RE: Today
By on 5/13/2009 10:07:01 AM , Rating: 4
quote:
And Europe's standard of living is setting a model for the rest of the world (if you don't believe me spend a few months in Sweden or France).


France's perpetually high unemployment rate undermines that statement. It wasn't that long ago they had unrest and riots that were fueled by lack of hope to find gainful employment.


RE: Today
By TETRONG on 5/13/09, Rating: 0
RE: Today
By heffeque on 5/13/09, Rating: 0
RE: Today
By B3an on 5/13/2009 10:39:19 AM , Rating: 1
Exactly what i as thinking. This person really is an idiot.


RE: Today
By heffeque on 5/13/2009 10:12:30 AM , Rating: 2
UK isn't in the EU? Now that's new! Hahaha!


RE: Today
By heffeque on 5/13/2009 10:14:51 AM , Rating: 2
The rest was good though, I just was surprised by the fact that people actually thought that the UK wasn't in the EU :-P No harm intended :-P


RE: Today
By inperfectdarkness on 5/13/2009 10:15:01 AM , Rating: 3
i'd say the better solution would be to stipulate additional charges that the coal companies have to pay. the costs would be passed on to the consumers.

solar, wind, nuclear, etc. would be exempt from these fees; prompting a push to new energy sources to improve profit margins.


RE: Today
By invidious on 5/13/2009 10:15:18 AM , Rating: 2
A sub-blog within the comments of a blog? My mind is exploding with this overload of soft journalism.

He isn't talking about the EU, he said Europe. And while he implied they are all idiots it is clear that he meant the idiots in goverment. So essentially he is bashing Socialism, and more power to him. This article is a clear example of goverment gone wrong.

PS: Only a fool would judge all Americans based on a blog response comment that he probably took 10 seconds to write.


RE: Today
By swhibble on 5/13/2009 11:28:07 AM , Rating: 4
"The UK isn't even in the EU"

I just have to ask, where the FUCK did you get that information from?

The UK has been in the EU since it was FORMED. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EU#Member_states

I really don't know what the fuck you're going on about when you say that the UK has nothing to do with Europe. The UK was one of the countries that SHAPED what Europe is today. While yes we didn't adopt the Euro, and we don't always see eye-to-eye with the EU government, we ARE a major part of the EU.
If you want to make the argument that the UK has a different culture to the rest of Europe, then I'll be happy to debate it with you, though I'm pretty sure every country in the EU has a different culture so I'm not quite sure what your point is... But at least try and get your facts straight before you open your mouth. You're a journalist for fucksake.

"Try not to give Americans a bad name by blindly insulting millions of people, due to your own prejudices and arrogance."

I think you should take your own advice.


RE: Today
By Murloc on 5/13/2009 12:34:46 PM , Rating: 2
the UK has a slighty different vision than central europe, it's more toward the US.


RE: Today
By lco45 on 5/14/2009 2:09:50 AM , Rating: 2
[silence .. crickets .. muffled coughing]


RE: Today
By clovell on 5/13/2009 2:15:21 PM , Rating: 3
Points to consider, Jason, but there's no way you can spin raising utility costs 7-fold in a worldwide recession as anything but idiotic.


RE: Today
By heffeque on 5/13/2009 10:27:28 AM , Rating: 1
Paying 40 euros a month here (4 people living at home). That doesn't seem like it will keep me from eating morcilla with red wine =D
It's a small price to pay for clean energy so as to have a cleaner environment.

Almost 45% of the electricity produced in 2008 was clean energy, and Spain actually exports energy to France because even though Spain is spending on clean energy (and closing down nuclear power plants), it's still cheaper than France's nuclear energy.
Interesting enough, Spain barely has solar power energy, the biggest source of clean energy in Spain is actually wind power.


RE: Today
By Keeir on 5/13/2009 3:43:38 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Almost 45% of the electricity produced in 2008 was clean energy, and Spain actually exports energy to France because even though Spain is spending on clean energy (and closing down nuclear power plants), it's still cheaper than France's nuclear energy.


Strange

http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf40.htm

In 2008, according to a bias source, France is the largest -exporter- of Electrical Energy

Looking at

http://www.iaea.org/inisnkm/nkm/aws/eedrb/data/ES-...

and

http://www.iaea.org/inisnkm/nkm/aws/eedrb/data/ES-...

Spain has traditionally been a Importer of Electricity (overall)

France
http://www.iaea.org/inisnkm/nkm/aws/eedrb/data/FR-...

and

http://www.iaea.org/inisnkm/nkm/aws/eedrb/data/FR-...

Seems to be traditionally a large exportor of electricity.

Furtermore

http://www.rte-france.com/espace_clients/an/client...

Suggests that overall, France exports more than 5TWh to Spain.


RE: Today
By heffeque on 5/13/2009 7:39:21 PM , Rating: 1
In 2008 Spain exported 11.221 GWh witch is quite an accomplishment taking into consideration that in 2008 three nuclear power plants where closed down.

Average monthly prices (€/Mwh)
January 2009: Spain 51,13; France 63,45
February 2009: Spain 41,67; France 49,51

This is from 2007: http://www.pvresources.com/en/top50pv.php
Take into consideration that Spain is only just a bit bigger than California.

It seems that clean energy in Spain is cheaper than France's nuclear energy. Maybe the reason is that with nuclear energy you have to spend a huge amount of money on dealing properly with the nuclear waste.


RE: Today
By Keeir on 5/14/2009 11:18:45 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
In 2008 Spain exported 11.221 GWh witch is quite an accomplishment taking into consideration that in 2008 three nuclear power plants where closed down.


Although I do not know, nor could find a source for your number of 11.221 GWh, keep in mind this number is very very small. Traditionally speaking, Spain imports 5000 GWh a year in balance. 11.221 GWh translates into around 1.3 MW (24 hours a day and 356 days a year) or roughly what 2 2.5MW wind towers would produce.

quote:
Average monthly prices (€/Mwh)


So are these Wholesale? Consumer? Average the Distrub. Companies needs to be paid? Given the unit, I am going to go with Wholesale prices. In comparison I offer you
http://www.bloomberg.com/energy/
Wholesale prices for Electricity in the United States
Palo Verde is a transition point dominated by the Palo Verde Nuclear Plant, its price per MWh is 34,34 Euros.

In reality, if those are Wholesale prices, the do not reflect the cost of Spanish "Clean" power. According to this article, which unfortunately since I do not speak Spanish I must run with... Spanish power distributors MUST by law purchase all "green" power produced by Spanish power companies which is priced at less than 10 x the rate for coal. Coal is in the United States typically produced and sold for a rate around 30,00 Euros per MWh. In Spain, it probably a bit higher, but even so, Only green power priced at more than 300,00 Euros per MWh will make its way to the Wholesale market in Spain. Spainish Wholesale prices will be governed by the cost to produce the other mixture of powers, IE Coal (since as you point out Nuclear Plants are shutting down).

quote:
It seems that clean energy in Spain is cheaper than France's nuclear energy. Maybe the reason is that with nuclear energy you have to spend a huge amount of money on dealing properly with the nuclear waste.


Wrong Wrong Wrong Wrong Wrong. Speaking in terms of -COST- to produce power, since prices can reflect many situations especially in semi-socialist societys such as Spain and France, Nuclear power cost estimates run 0,02 Euros per kWh to 0,08 Euros per kWh depending on the Study. Wind and Solar are 0,07 to 0,35 Euros per kWh depending on the Study and Location. (Wind can be very cheap, but there is usually a limit on the amount that can be installed in the best wind locations. This varies by country). At its very very very best, Wind power can be produced at the same rate as some of the worst Nuclear Power. Given that Wind Power has high variability, in the long run its costs to transmit and use are unarguably higher than Nuclear.


RE: Today
By heffeque on 5/15/2009 11:08:43 AM , Rating: 1
I'm not sure how Spain producing cheaper energy with more clean energy and less nuclear energy than France fits with your statement.


RE: Today
By heffeque on 5/15/2009 11:11:44 AM , Rating: 2
Forgot to put the link: http://www.ree.es/sala_prensa/web/notas_detalle.as... It's in Spanish, sorry :-\


RE: Today
By Keeir on 5/15/2009 12:33:05 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I'm not sure how Spain producing cheaper energy with more clean energy and less nuclear energy than France fits with your statement.


But you have done absolutely nothing to show that Spain IS producing "clean" (IE Wind + Solar) power cheaper than France's Nuclear Power.

In fact, the very article we are dicussing says that instead of "Cheaper" its in fact 7x as expensive and allowed by law to be 10x!

You paying 40 Euros means nothing. I pay less than 10 Euros a month for electricity. Its the -rate- thats important. And even further than the rate, its the rate when the subsidies are taken in... In the US, even -coal- power is subsidized to the tune of 0,01 Euro cents per kWh. Wind and Solar have traditionally been subsidized at more like 0,20 Euro cents per kWh.

Yeah, I am thinking of going to Spain and putting up a wind tower. I get 25 years of customers at 10x the wholesale rate! Do that for any particular industry and watch to go bananas.


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