320 MW hybrid renewable plant creates Little Spain on the Spencer Gulf


Europe’s biggest renewable energy generator, the Spanish utility Iberdrola, has announced its first project in the Asia-Pacific — a 320 MW hybrid solar and wind plant to be constructed in South Australia’s Spencer Gulf region, reported the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) on Friday.

The words of Iberdrola’s Director of Renewable Energy, Xabier Viteri, will come as a shot in the arm to investors and developers of solar and wind in Australia, who have faced a tumultuous year of curtailments, electricity market rule changes, the fits and starts of an evolving transmission system, Federal Government transition avoidance, and talk of waning investor confidence in the industry.

Said Viteri: “Renewable energy has increased its market share considerably in Australia in recent years. There’s tremendous potential for further growth.”

Tim Buckley, Director of Energy Finance Studies for IEEFA in Australia and South Asia, told pv magazine this morning, “The entrance of Spanish renewable energy giant Iberdrola into the Australian renewable energy infrastructure sector is a clear endorsement of the world-leading natural resources and investment opportunities available in Australia.”

Iberdrola is said to have been scoping the Australian renewable-energy scene for several years — Country Managing Director for Australia, Fernando Santamaria, has been leading Iberdrola renewables’ strategy for the local market since January — and is bullish on the opportunities both in Australia and abroad.

News of its plans to start work on a 650 MW pipeline of projects in Australia came on the same day as Iberdrola declared plans to “relaunch clean energies in Spain”, with “the installation of 3,000 renewable MW in the run up to 2022”.

This year, Iberdrola has already announced 590 MW unsubsidised Francisco Pizarro solar plant in the southern Spanish region of Extremadura, and its Castilla-La Mancha project in central southern Spain, with two solar parks of 400 MW each.

The 500 MW Nuñez de Balboa PV plant, under construction in Spain’s south west is one of a vast pipeline of global renewables projects for Spanish-based utility Iberdrola.

Image: Iberdrola

Its news release of November 15 stated: “Iberdrola’s commitment to a decarbonised economic model has led it to earmark 34 billion Euros for global investments between now and 2022 in renewable energies, smart and robust distribution networks and storage technologies.”

With 70% of its installed 45 GW of worldwide generation capacity currently carbon free (18 GW of solar and wind and 13 GW of hydro), the utility has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2050.

Iberdrola is listed on the Spanish Exchange, Bolsa de Madrid, among the IBEX Top Dividendo. Buckley says it “has been one of the best performing majors in the Spanish equity market over the last five years, rising 50% in a flat overall market”.

Buckley adds, “Iberdrola’s global leadership is evident in its market-leading wind and solar investments across Spain, the UK, the US, Mexico and Brazil — all countries that are leading the world in decarbonising and shifting to sustainable, low-cost renewable energy.

Bloomberg reported that Iberdrola’s Spencer Gulf project, due to be up and running in 2021, will not have battery storage in the first instance, but that the company had said storage would be considered for future Australian investments.

“Like a lot of countries, we see increasing demand from the public and businesses for their energy to come from clean sources,” said Viteri. “When you have that demand, coupled with abundant natural resources for high-performance wind and solar, it creates a highly attractive market to invest in.”

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