Life from an outsider's perspective…

Farming the suns rays in Granadilla.

Spain is the worlds fourth largest producer of solar cells after Japan, Germany and USA and exports 80% of the solar cell modules it produces.It’s not often I post an article in both the “Inspiration” and “Island Life” categories simultaneously. But looking out the bus window earlier last month, I noticed a strange series of dark, tilted platforms located in an arid coastal region of Granadilla. They’re only visible from freeway TF1 for a few seconds. To my eyes, it appeared to be a vast series of solar-cell panels forming one giant array.

Well after doing a bit of investigating, the project turns out to be called “SOLTEN“, constructed and operated by the Instituto Tecnológico y de Energí­as Renovables (ITER). My hunch was correct: SOLTEN is reportedly the biggest photovoltaic solar power station in Europe, so I’m really suprised I haven’t heard about it before!

Farming the suns rays in Granadilla.The SOLTEN solar installation was initially expected to consist of 150 solar energy modules; each module was comprised of 576 photovoltaic solar cell panels distributed in 24 rows and yielding up to 100 kilowatts of electricity. The installation was expected to generate a total energy capacity of 15 Megawatts of power. Source.

To my eyes, it appeared to be a vast series of solar-cell panels forming one giant array.Instead, SOLTEN has been conceived in two steps, SOLTEN I and SOLTEN II. The photovoltaic solar units ultilised in the SOLTEN project are fabricated by Kyocera, ITER, Yingli and Solarworld. The good news is that the energy that is generated will be connected to the local electricity grid, which is managed by Unelco-Endesa. 

The environmental contribution of the 13MW SOLTEN I plant can be summarised as follows:

  • Energy production estimated at 22.750 MWh/year
  • This plant could provide enough energy to supply 5308 family homes with electricity.

SOLTEN I Prevents the atmospheric emission of:

  • 18.200.000 kg/year of CO2;
  • 122.850 kg/year of SOx;
  • 45.500 kg/year of NOx;
  • 2.730 kg of CO;
  • Saves 1.961.050 kg/year of petroleum

SOLTEN II produces a further 11MW of electricity and is composed of 70 solar units, each with a surface area of 800m2.

Spain is the worlds fourth largest producer of solar cells after Japan, Germany and USA and exports 80% of the solar cell modules it produces. Source

It’s truly a great thing to see that there are already many companies in the Canary islands dedicated to Solar energy. So if you’re thinking about going solar, do check out that link. It’s the best directory of alternate-energy sources I could find. According to the latest renewable energy investigations, Granadilla receives 1,500 hours of sunlight annually. Tenerife is the ideal place for solar energy and the price of solar cells has plummeted recently.

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