Germany’s leading financial daily Handelsblatt here writes that the Spanish Andasol 3 parabolic solar power generation plant in Spain “is producing foremost one thing: losses“.
The Andasol 3 solar power station is owned by a consortium of German power companies RWE, Rheinenergie and Stadtwerke Munich and is located in the Spanish province of Granada. When the first of its kind (Andasol 1) was built in 2009, the technology was hailed as a model to the world on how solar energy could successfully replace fossil fuels. US president Barack Obama said Spain was the way to go in terms of energy policy.
And when Andasol 3 went online in 2011, Stadtwerke München director Kurt Mühlhäuser boasted:
Andasol 3 is the the best example that we have to achieve the transition to renewable energies at the European level.”
According to Wikipedia, Andasol 3 was completed at a cost of 315 million euros and generates approximately 165 GW-hr each per year. The plant uses tanks of molten salt to store solar energy so that it can generate electricity even when the sun isn’t shining. The site has an annual direct insolation of 2200 kWh/m² per year.
But today the Handelsblatt writes the plant is losing money and cannot operate profitably. Stadtwerke München has had to write off 64 million euros, Rheinenergie 17 million, and RWE has admitted that the write-offs will be “considerable”.
Corporate lawyers to the rescue
The losses stem from the Spanish goverment rolling back subsidies to green energies as the country reels from its debt crisis. The Handelsblatt writes that the three German companies have sent over their lawyers “who are suing against the changed subsidy rules in Spain“. Now that the guaranteed feed-in tariffs are no longer guaranteed and in fact will no longer be paid, green energies are no longer able to operate profitably.
Solar energy was always only possible with generous subsidies from the state. During the boom years more than 13 billion euros flowed into renewable energies in Spain thanks to generous subsisidies by the state, the Handelsblatt writes. But now the solar gold rush days are over. The collapse is unstoppable.
All three German investor companies involved in Andasol 3 blame the scale back in Spanish subsidies for the losses. The Handelsblatt writes that the legal wrangling will persist for years as green energy investors sue the Spanish government.