A Solar Renaissance

Last month, a single contract signed into existence 708 MW of photovoltaic arrays to be built across the Iberian Peninsula. The mammoth deal will roll out as much solar capacity as was installed in Spain and Portugal from 2013 to 2017 combined.

It is no isolated event. Artur Lenkowski, Senior Associate at IHS Markit, says that solar PPA activity in Europe grew from 360 MW in 2017 to more than 2.4 GW in 2018. These projects bring together a colorful range of investors and operate across diverse jurisdictions, but one point many have in common is that they are being built without government subsidies.

“We are competing head-on with market rates,” says Peter Alex, head of investor relations at Energiekontor, which has just signed a 15 year PPA with electricity supplier EnBW for an 85 MW solar farm near Rostock, Germany. “The project came as a big surprise to the market and politicians, but we can already sell solar electricity in Germany that is competitive with fossil fuels and nuclear.”

“We see a lot of projects across Europe, especially in the south,” says Anne Joeken, head of communications at Statkraft, a leading supplier of renewable energy in Europe. Her employer notably closed a 175 MW PPA in early 2018 to buy electricity from the Don Rodrigo solar power plant near Seville in Spain. “There are various sources for funding new PV capacity with PPAs becoming a more relevant one as grid parity evolves,” she says.

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