With 1.43 million solar panels spread over an area of more than 1,000 hectares, the Núñez de Balboa photovoltaic solar plant, between the municipalities of Usagre, Hinojosa del Valle and Bienvenida de Badajoz, is the largest solar plant in Europe.
Completed in April 2020 , Núñez de Balboa has an installed capacity of 500 megawatts (MW), placing it at the forefront of Europe and clearly ahead of the 300 MW of Cestas Solar Park, in France. Iberdrola is the company behind the plant and its construction was completed in one year, after an investment of 290 million euros and employing more than 1,200 workers.
Extremadura, at the forefront of Europe in solar energy
The numbers of the large plant in Badajoz are impressive. In total, it promises an annual production of 832 GWh , with the capacity to provide renewable energy to 250,000 homes. The almost 1.5 million solar panels are installed on 288,000 supports on the ground and the total weight reaches 12,100 tons.
For the construction of this enormous photovoltaic plant, purchases were made for a value of 227 million euros from 30 different suppliers, for the construction, the supply of modules, the fixed structure, transformers and the engineering of the power lines.
The plant has 3,200 containers, 115 inverters to transform direct current into alternating current and more than 2,000 kilometers of low and medium voltage cables.
The company’s goal is to reach 2,000 MW of photovoltaic energy in Spain by 2022. For this, another equivalent plant is already being prepared that will narrowly exceed that of Núñez de Balboa. This is Francisco Pizarro , with a capacity of 590 MW, an area of 1,300 hectares and located in Cáceres. The completion date is 2021 and between the two it will place the region at the forefront of Europe in solar power generation.
According to the International Energy Agency , solar energy is already “the cheapest electricity in history”. It is not surprising that Spain is betting on it to advance in renewable energies.
The battle for the largest photovoltaic plant is very much alive. In 2019, the Mula, Northleaf plant was built in Murcia with a power of 494W. Spain leads the European road to solar energy, but remains very far from the huge buildings in India or China , with plants reaching 1,547 MW as “The Great Wall of China of the Sun”.