solar thermal electric

Solar thermal electric odyssey?

2013 will be a key milestone for the solar thermal electric industry. At least that is what leading members of Protermosolar, the Spanish solar thermal electric trade association, think. Until then, those developing this energy source will invest €15 billion, but to ensure this adventure does not turn into an odyssey, the Spanish government must maintain current public support for the sector.

Protermosolar is concerned that the Government may take action under the influence of "pressure groups" and "self-serving lies" that "curtail" the development of renewables. These were the terms used recently, as recorded by Europa Press, by Luis Crespo, Secretary General of the association, during a press conference to present the status of the solar thermal electric industry.

The goal is to reach 2,500 MW in 2013, which means an investment of €15 billion. To date, there are 382 MW in operation in Spain, plus a further 718 MW at an advanced stage of construction, making Spain the first world power to have exceeded the 350 MW of capacity in the United States.

A campaign against renewables

According to Luis Crespo, "a very aggressive campaign is being waged”, adding in a poetic tone that: “All the birds eat the wheat, but in the end it is the sparrow that is found to be guilty. " Protermosolar recalls that renewables received €4.6 billion of the €6 billion in premiums allocated under the special regime during 2009. Combined Heat and Power, for example, received €1.2 million, although Crespo highlights, “it appears that it does not eat wheat”.

"Everybody has received public money," explains Valeriano Ruiz, President of Protermosolar. As an example, Ruiz cites the incentives received by conventional power generators through stranded costs [costs of moving from a monopoly position to a free market], the nuclear moratorium, or the development of oil pipelines and hydrological infrastructures.

Given the decision the Government might take as a result of the study being conducted to review public support for renewable energies, the leaders of Protermosolar consider it to be "inconceivable" that the premiums for solar thermal electricity will be cut before 2013. "Now the framework is appropriate and will enable the sector to function until 2013, says Luis Crespo. "Killing the sector would be a mistake," states Valeriano Ruiz, referring to the possibility of changing the ground rules for facilities that have already been pre-assigned the current feed-in tariff in the Ministry of Industry’s Renewables Register , "especially after the legal uncertainty experienced over the last year”.

Protermosolar argues that the case put forward by traditional energy companies that renewable energy premiums are to blame for the tariff deficit is erroneous. "The truth is that we make others earn less and that is why they are angry," Valeriano Ruiz insists. On entering the market, renewable energy makes the marginal pool price drop (wholesale electricity market) and therefore other technologies earn less.

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