ACS, KKR winners in ‘historic’ Spanish renewables auction

Solar power took 3.9GW of the unsubsidised 5GW on offer, with the two firms set to develop close to 2GW of it.

Spain will install its first set of major solar projects in four years after 3.9GW was awarded in the country’s latest renewable energy auction.

In a significant shift from previous tenders, solar power picked up the bulk of the supply on offer, with a further 1.1GW reserved for new wind farms. The unsubsidised auction procured 2GW more than originally planned following a high demand from investors, the government said.

It means more than 8GW of renewable power has been awarded in Spain since May, when an initial 3GW competition was held. The tender angered the solar industry after 2,975MW was provided to wind projects in a “technology-neutral” process, with trade association UNEF filing an appeal with the Supreme Court. However, days later the government surprised the renewables industry with the announcement that another 3GW auction would take place in the summer months.

The major winner of the latest competition was Spanish construction firm ACS, whose subsidiary Cobra emerged with 1.5GW of solar capacity. X-ELIO, the solar developer 80 percent owned by KKR Global Infrastructure Investors II, was awarded 455MW of capacity, while Italian utility’s Spanish subsidiary Endea won 339MW to be spread across two projects. Gas Natural Fenosa, 20 percent controlled by Global Infrastructure Partners III, was awarded 250MW of solar power after securing 667MW of wind in the May auction.

UNEF’s president Jorge Barredo hailed the process as “a historic day” and said the results were due to the high level of competitiveness provided by solar projects. The tendered capacity is set to greatly boost the country’s photovoltaic sector, which suffered following retroactive subsidy cuts a few years ago. Spain has installed just 86MW of solar capacity since 2013, according to The International Renewable Energy Agency.

The awarded projects must be installed before 2020, as per the rules of the tender.