Tech & Space
July 9, 2024
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Floating Solar: Spain's New Weapon for Energy Security and Sustainability

Spain has introduced new regulations to facilitate the installation of floating solar power plants on state-owned reservoirs, aiming to increase renewable energy capacity, reduce fossil fuel dependence, and enhance energy security.
Floating Solar: Spain's New Weapon for Energy Security and Sustainability
Ramon Gutierrez - Unsplash

In response to the ongoing energy crisis triggered by the war in Ukraine, the Spanish government has taken proactive measures to bolster its energy security and accelerate the transition to renewable energy sources. The Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (MITECO) has recently unveiled a comprehensive set of regulations governing the installation of floating solar power plants on approximately one hundred state-owned hydropower reservoirs.

This strategic move is part of Spain's National Response Plan, designed to mitigate the economic and social repercussions of the war in Ukraine. By harnessing the potential of floating solar technology, the government aims to significantly increase the country's renewable energy generation capacity, thereby reducing its reliance on fossil fuel imports and enhancing energy security.

The new regulations provide a clear legal framework for deploying floating solar plants within the public hydropower domain. They outline the specific conditions that must be met in administrative authorisations and concessions, ensuring the sustainable use and protection of water bodies. The government envisions a maximum of three floating power plants per reservoir, with partial coverage determined by the water quality.

The decision to promote floating solar installations aligns with Spain's ambitious climate goals, as outlined in its Climate Change and Energy Transition Law. The law targets 42% renewable energy in total electricity consumption and a 74% renewable generation mix by 2030. Floating solar, with its potential for higher energy efficiency due to water cooling and reduced dust on panels, is expected to play a crucial role in achieving these targets.

In addition to boosting renewable energy production, floating solar installations are anticipated to offer several environmental benefits. These include reduced water evaporation, decreased algae blooms due to shading, and the preservation of valuable land resources.

While floating photovoltaics is still considered an emerging technology, the Spanish government is committed to its responsible development. Follow-up programs will be established to monitor the performance and potential impacts of these installations, with the aim of optimising their implementation. MITECO plans to develop manuals, technical guides, and recommendations to guide the deployment of floating solar technology and ensure its long-term success.

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