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In Spain, Solar Lobby and 3 Big Utilities Battle Over PV Subsidy Cuts

Spain's solar trade industry argues that PV projects have been sacrificed to keep profits from coal and gas plants high

Tim Webb,

Apr 3, 2011
Solar power in Spain

Salle says that "even if we recognise that the situation is better than a month or a year ago, the problem is [a lack of] confidence. The uncertainty and [risk] premium does not apply only to that sector [solar PV] but to the whole industry and the rest of the country in some cases.

"Everyone appreciates the relevance of having regulation which does not make any retroactive decisions because you will have to attract new people [to invest]. The new people will say, 'Hey, in the history of this country and this sector these people who have been new in the past and have invested, the government has changed the rules.'"

Reflecting Change

Abengoa, a Spanish engineering firm celebrating its 70th year, is pushing ahead with solar-thermal projects. Unlike the schemes involving reflectors heating a salt water mixture running through pipes, Abengoa has developed towers of pipes that look like mini skyscrapers. It employs 23,000 workers in its solar unit, which had a turnover of more than €3bn (£2.6bn).

The firm has conducted sustainability audits of its business for several years and says projects that can't meet sustainability criteria are modified or abandoned. Controversially, it has championed the refining of biofuels, something anti-poverty campaigners have cited as denying food sources to poor people in the developing world.

Carlos Bousoño, director of corporate social responsibility, said the debate had moved on after technology allowed for seeds and fruit to be separated from plants before processing. He said only the stalk and waste material was used in second generation biofuels fermentation, allowing corn, soya or other foodstuff to be saved for making food.

Republished with permission.

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