Harvesting the sun
Yesterday, Monte alto (9,5 MW), one of the solar pv plants with the highest yield in the world (14 Million annual Kwh) was officially inaugurated by Acciona Solar in the city of Milagro (Navarra, North Eastern Spain – mentioned in a post some days ago).
The project will produce clean electricity equivalent to the consumption of five thousand families and will avoid the emission of 13.5 million tons of CO².
It is a peculiar style of plant, of the kind called in Spain “Huerta Solar” (pronounced more or less like wehrtah sohlar) It means literally solar orchard, though, less poetically, they could simply be called solar farms.
A “Huerta Solar” is a grid-connected solar power plant based on individual structures, each with their own investor. Individuals may invest directly in these small photovoltaic installations that become their property but are located on a common site with other owners. These subsystems are usually equipped with automated sun tracking devices that allow them to generate up to 40% more energy than fixed systems.
Image courtesy of Acciona Solar – “Huerta solar in Navarra”
Acciona Solar is the company that pioneered the concept of “huertas solares” (they use the terms “solar gardens” in English). What is more interesting about these “solar gardens” is precisely their ownership structure as a sort of cooperative. It adds a social dimension to the plant, as around 98% of the 752 individual investors are from Navarra.
Recently I mentioned the rush of venture capitalists into renewable energy. Here, the investments are available for people with more modest means (prices start at around 70.000 dollars for a 7 kilowatts panel).
According to Solar Plaza (a marketplace for pv solar energy) the returns offered to investors are good and lie around 8-10% per year. The feed-in tariff guarantee for 25 years makes the investment very interesting compared to savings in a bank account. The Huerta Solar is, therefore becoming a new and popular way to invest and make money, that holds promise for other markets as well.