Print 113 comment(s) - last by heffeque.. on May 18 at 11:11 AM

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.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: Today
By TETRONG on 5/13/2009 10:07:27 AM , Rating: 0
The UK isn't even in the EU -- and thus while perhaps geographically associated with Europe, definitely isn't very much part of Europe in terms of gov't/culture.

It must be true because you said it.

A few questionable decisions which you disagree with don't make a region a bad place, or its people "idiots". I'm sure you could find plenty of decisions by the U.S. gov't that you disagree with, both during the Bush and Obama administrations -- does that make the U.S. a bad place?


I'd say a lot of great stuff is happening in Europe.

Crepes' ?, ok I'll give you that one.

France is leading the world with some of the most advanced nuclear power designs (along with France).

"France along with France" - thats the damnedest' thing, no wonder they're doing so good -theres two of them!

The LHC, hosted by France and Switzerland is going to offer an unprecedented research opportunity.

Actually, it's going to cause a catastrophic event that will nearly wipe switzerland off the map.

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).

Where can I get my hands on this model to improve my standard of living?

I know many Europeans, and by and large they are intelligent, friendly, hard working, compassionate, highly educated people. I have yet to get to know someone from Europe, who I would label an "idiot".

There must not be any then.

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

What are we going to do about your ignorance? ...Just sayin

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.

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates

Most Popular ArticlesSmartphone Screen Protectors – What To Look For
September 21, 2016, 9:33 AM
UN Meeting to Tackle Antimicrobial Resistance
September 21, 2016, 9:52 AM
Walmart may get "Robot Shopping Carts?"
September 17, 2016, 6:01 AM
5 Cases for iPhone 7 and 7 iPhone Plus
September 18, 2016, 10:08 AM
Update: Problem-Free Galaxy Note7s CPSC Approved
September 22, 2016, 5:30 AM

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki