Photograph by Markel Redondo, Fedephoto, for Greenpeace
The sun-drenched swaths of land in southwestern Spain seem custom-made for massive solar projects. Add generous government subsidies to this hospitable climate, and the solar opportunity in regions like Andalusia and Extremadura would appear almost too good to be true.
In fact, it was too good to last.
In the wake of an overheated solar market and the worldwide financial crisis, Spain has slashed its renewable energy subsidies. And the solar boom under the Mediterranean sun has gone bust-a beautiful reversal of fortune: In 2008, 40 percent of the world’s solar installations were in Spain.
But it’s hardly the top of the street for the technologies nurtured at the Iberian peninsula. Spanish companies are working to export their know-how to the usa, Latin America or even to other European Union nations.
Although america developed experimental solar energy towers within the Mojave Desert within the wake of the 1970s energy crisis, it was nearly three decades later that Spain put the world’s first commercial solar tower online in March 2007, 15 miles west of Seville in southern Spain’s Sanl