UK AND the NetherLands
Technological development and plunging prices on solar panels makes solar power an increasingly interesting source of power production. Therefore, Vattenfall is now looking into the possibility of building a number of solar power farms.
“We are looking at a number of projects close to existing wind sites where we can benefit from existing infrastructure. The project is still in its cradle: we are about to file the first permit applications, but no investment decisions have been made yet. Still, this is in line with our strategy," says Tomas Björnsson, Vice President Strategy and Market Intelligence at Vattenfall.
The UK and the NetherLands are first
To start with, a number of solar farms are planned in the UK and in the Netherlands. In the UK the solar farms are to be placed in connection to existing wind farms. One example is the Parc Cynog wind farm in Wales, where Vattenfall wants to build a 5MW solar power facility covering about 20 acres. The proposed solar farm would add renewable power for more than 1,400 homes. However, recent announcements of the new conservative government in the UK to sharply cut the subsidies for solar PV are endangering these projects.
In the Netherlands, Vattenfall is looking into the possibility to build solar power arrays at conventional power plant sites, for example the closed down coal-fired Buggenum plant in the south of the country. Vattenfall plans to participate in the 2015 tender round for solar subsidies.
Solar for customers
The present plans mean an addition to Vattenfall’s current solar activities. Vattenfall is already helping customers and property owners to project, install and/or operate so called “roof top” solar installations on a small scale, a business that also will grow in the future. However, Vattenfall has not made any significant investments in large solar farms previously.
Claus Wattendrup, manager for Business Development within Business Area Wind, says that Vattenfall can profit from synergies by building solar power at wind farms and other existing power production facilities.
Low cost and easy to build
“We have dozens of wind farms with good grid connections and good relations to landowners,” he says. “Therefore it is quite easy for us to build solar power arrays in those locations. Also solar is a good complement to wind as it generates power in times of the day and year when the wind is generally less strong. For other existing sites the benefits are similar.”
The surge for solar power is largely driven by decreasing costs. The price of solar panels is dropping fast and is today 70 percent lower than in 2009, and the decrease is believed to continue.
“I expect a big growth in decentralised solar power. In a number of years many more business and home owners will think about installing their own panels. We are now looking at investing in large-scale sites, if the conditions set out by the governments are stable. By doing this we also build up expertise and experience that we will benefit from in the future. Solar is a good business and here to stay,” says Claus Wattendrup.