And now, some good news.
After months of coronavirus stories out of Europe, one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic has some shining bright news to share. Indeed, many in the renewable energy sector are taking a bit of pride in seeing a success story just as the world, as Europe, as Spain, and as all of us need something to get excited about.
Spain has trailed behind only Italy and the United States in the COVID-19 pandemic, losing tens of thousands of lives as it battled to stem the spread of the virus. Just as some non-essential businesses began to reopen their doors and life got back to normal for just a sliver of the population, a crowning achievement in sustainability went online. Spanish utility company Iberdrola announced that the first kilowatt-hour is through the line of the 500-megawatt facility in Extremadura.
The Nunez de Balboa facility lays claim as Europe’s largest operating solar plant. The station comprises over 1.4 million solar panels and can provide power to over a quarter of a million people in the region per year. That’s especially good news in an industry that has seen its growth scaled back due to the pandemic. Estimates of nearly 130 gigawatts in 2020 are now expected to fall roughly around 106 GW, a drop just shy of 20% to pre-pandemic totals.
It’s not just solar. Supply chain and manufacturing disruptions have already had an impact on wind turbine construction in Europe, with the Netherlands most affected. There has been little incentive for firms and utilities to switch, with record-breaking low oil prices hitting a floor in mid-April, only with a deal to cut production by OPEC, Russia, and the United States able to keep prices per barrel above prices not seen in nearly three decades.
Solar in Spain might be one of the bright spots of a season that’s been incredibly challenging in not just Spain, but around the globe. Right now, renewables need to stay on the mind to help countries emerge from the pandemic with as healthy and bright a future as we deserve.