Grid Parity solar park Don Rodrigo
When this project first began back in 2012, we knew that if PV grid parity in Europe was going to become feasible, that it would start here in Southern Spain, a region with some of the highest irradiation in Europe. We just had to try.
The outcome is remarkable:
Don Rodrigo has a total capacity of 175 MWp and an annual output of 300 GWh, which is equivalent to the annual consumption of approximately 93,000 average Spanish households. More than 500,000 Astronergy and GCL polycrystalline modules with maximum efficiency of 17.6% have been installed. Cables with a total length of 3,000 kilometers have been run – that’s the distance from BayWa r.e. headquarters in Munich to the capital of Spain and back again.
Europe’s 1st subsidy-free utility-scale solar project Don Rodrigo in Spain
Impressions from our Don Rodrigo Solar Park
The PV power plant is located close to Seville, Spain. The location of the PV plant is outlined on the map at the bottom of the page.
Google Earth Link (Google Chrome required)
Planning and Approvals
For the realisation of a solar farm takes extensive and detailed planning. During the approval procedure, we made sure we consulted all the relevant authorities to gain their expertise and opinions.
These included, amongst others:
- Ministry for Ecological Transition
- Road Authority of Andalucía
- Road Authority of Seville
- Historical Heritage Authority of Andalucía
- Hydrological Authority
- Department of Infrastructure and Housing of Andalucía
- Red Eléctrica de España – the national grid operator
- Endesa – Spain’s largest utility company
- Ministry for Environment Affairs
- Environmental Department of Andalucía
- City Council of Alcalá de Guadaira
- City Council of Utrera
Land surface option agreement
The land is leased from four local farmers – all cousins – as well as from the local Catholic Church, the Order of San Juan de Dios.
Grid connection capacity request
The initial request was filed in 2012. After first responses, it was clear that the grid capacity was sufficient, but an expansion of Red Eléctrica’s substation was required to physically connect the project. As such expansions are only decided at a national ministerial level once every 5 years, it was only at the end of 2014 that the Government agreed to it as part of the national expansion plan 2015 – 2020. There were still many subsequent legal steps to the expansion, along with the engineering requirements. Construction is now on track to be completed in Spring 2019.
National Ministry for Ecological Transition
This is the key agency which handles the ‘Autorización Administrativa’ – a permit that gathers the feedback and feasibility considerations of the project from all possible affected persons, companies and authorities. Only once we had obtained an exhaustive Environmental Impact Declaration from the Ministry for Environmental Affairs and a unified environmental permit from the Regional Environmental Authority in Andalucía could we obtain the ‘Autorización Administrativa’. With this in hand, we were able to start requesting the appropriate construction permits, which were handled on a local level by the Councils of Alcalá de Guadaíra and Utrera.
We know how important it is to respect the natural environment and be sensitive to wildlife, for every project we undertake. The Don Rodrigo site was mostly used as agricultural land with low soil properties, and no threatened species have been affected by construction. We have engaged an environmental surveyor and an avian specialist to consult on the project, and have taken advice on how to best integrate the solar plant with its surroundings. Everything down to the colour of the transformer stations has been carefully considered and more than 3km of hedgerows will be planted to improve the landscape. Wood from olive trees that had to be cleared from a small portion of the site was used to build furniture. No fungicides have been used during operation on the site, which will become an eco-pasture, with the panels raised high enough for sheep to graze underneath the solar modules.
Local commitment and capacity building measures – a win/win situation
Local support and commitment have been key elements of the project’s success. We are always keen to support local infrastructure and have a strong belief that providing advanced training for unemployed workers from the community leads to a mutually beneficial collaboration.
For Don Rodrigo local partners such as Prodiel, based in Seville, and Ansasol, based in Malaga, were engaged. Unemployed people from the local community – electricians, construction workers, or even unexperienced – received advanced training. Most of them joined the construction team once they had completed their course. The training was organised and carried out by our own experts and was supported and highly appreciated by local communities.
- The PV plants consist of first tier solar modules manufactured by Astronergy and GCL
- Polycrystalline modules with a power tolerance from 0~+5 W and a maximum efficiency of 17.6%.
- Certified according to IEC 61215, IEC 61730 and UL 1703
- Material & Workmanship Limited Product Warranty: 10 years
- Performance Guarantee: 25 years according to limited performance warranty
- HUAWEI String inverters SUN2000-60/100 KTL
- Maximum Efficiency (PAC): 98.8%/99.0%
- Overvoltage protection
- 10 years product warranty
- Medium voltage transformer manufactured by Siemens
- Oil filled transformer 800 to 1,600 kVA
- Manufactured and tested according to IEC 60076 standard
- 24 months warranty following on-site inspection
- Transformer stations manufactured by FEAG GmbH
- Rated Power: 800 to 1,600 kVA
- Primary rated Voltage: 20 kV
- Secondary rated voltage: 0.8 kV
- Workmanship Warranty: 30 months
- High quality solar mounting system manufactured by Zimmermann PV Stahlbau GmbH & Co. KG comprising of galvanized steel components, highly corrosion resistant, paramount stability.
- Material warranty: 10 years
- Remote monitoring 24/7 with customised access and various data analysis tools at the primary control unit at BayWa r.e. headquarters in Munich and first level support service provided at the plant site.
- Through the monitoring system it is also possible to steer the plant’s production according to the grid provider’s requests following the local grid code
- The plant is protected by an intelligent security system that is able to detect unauthorized activities throughout the fenced area, instead of only at the fence line as it would be the case with a standard CCTV system. The entire area is enclosed by a 2m high fence. All major connection cabling (AC connection) consists of aluminium cables.
- The substation and the overhead lines are designed to meet the TNO technical requirements, ensuring safe operation and high availability of the powerplant.
- High quality equipment and advanced protection schemes also contribute to the global quality of the powerplant.
- Scada is also an important topic: the substation is equipped with real-time monitoring to ensure direct communication with red electrica electricity control center (CECOEL). The building of the substation began roughly at the same time as the PV installation to achieve both at the same time. Ametel has been selected for the construction of the SS and the OHL.
- 17 MV lines (20kV) come from the PV plant to the substation building and are collected on 2 busbars. These are connected to both 220/20kV transformers and combined to connect the substation of the TNO over ~3km overhead lines.
- The cable trace is short, but many utilities have to be crossed (e.g. a road, other 220kV and 66kV lines, a train track and high trees)
- February 2018: construction start (surveys, vegetation management, fence installation, site access construction, internal roads, site logistics, etc.)
- August 2018: start of module mounting
- September 2018: delivery of 75MVA transformer for field B (115 tons)
- October 2018: start of laying 220kV high voltage cable
- December 2018: plant completion
- First half of 2019: commissioning