Conergy installing solar at cost of conventional electricity in Spain

PV systems in Spain

Conergy self-consumption pilot project at the organic restaurant Lasal del Varador, Barcelona / Spain

Germany’s Conergy, a vertically integrated PV manufacturer and developer, is now installing PV systems in Spain that are producing electricity at grid-competitive rates without subsidies. The company said it’s now hit the 1 megawatt mark of such projects. Spain has joined a growing number of countries where solar is becoming as cheap as other electric sources on the grid without subsidies, among them South Africa and Brazil.

The company installed its first grid-parity project in Spain at organic restaurant Lasal del Varador on Barcelona’s beach front in fall 2012. Since then, the company said it’s installed 56 such projects in Spain, totaling roughly 1 megawatt of PV-parity power. The parity projects are part of Conergy’s “Start it!” campaign, under which the company said its has developed business models for grid-parity markets in Australia, South Africa and the US.  

“The message is clear: solar pays, now more than ever,” said Luis Jiménez Gutierrez, Managing Director of Conergy Spain. “Although the Spanish market has lately seen a downturn due to the end of the feed-in tariffs, Conergy has been able to expand its market share considerably thanks to its business models for the grid parity market of the future.”

Conergy explained that the grid-parity business model it’s developed for Spain includes using all the energy produced by the system onsite. “In order to operate cost-effectively without subsidies from feed-in tariffs, the Spanish solar plants are precisely dimensioned to achieve a maximum self-consumption rate of close to 100 percent and thereby the greatest possible electricity cost savings, the company said. The size of the parity-priced arrays, according to the company, depend on their host’s daily electric requirements. “Around half the plants have a capacity of up to 10 kilowatt peak, roughly a quarter up to 25 kW and a further quarter has a total capacity of between 25 kW and 100 kW.” 

Now that Conergy’s successfully launched the Start it! campaign in Spain, the company is launching it in other countries this year. The first at-parity installations in other countries being installed this year include one PV system at a welfare institution in South Africa, another at a nursing home in Australia and at several schools in the US, The company said. However, as the company develops the parity projects in other markets it will have to adjust the model to meet local requirements. For instance, net-metering and time of use billing are two factors the company will consider when developing at-parity PV projects in the US, and each state and region in the US has its own prices and policies for solar, which means that some markets like in California and Hawaii are coming into parity much quicker than in other markets.