Germany's RWE utility looks to expand investments into solar PV plants
April 11, 2012 - Syanne Olson - pv-tech.org
RWE is supposedly looking to invest in solar power plants, citing solar module prices as one of its key determining factors. According to Bloomberg, up until now Germany’s second-biggest utility, which owns a stake in Spain’s Andasol 3 solar thermal power plant, has distanced itself from investing in PV generation because of what it considered too high of a cost for the technology. However, now that prices for solar modules are considerably lower than in the past, the utility is taking a second look.
“[Prices have dropped] dramatically, more than we have expected,” said Hans Buenting, chief financial officer of RWE’s renewable energy unit Innogy. “Now we start to take a look into that. We are looking at more promising countries in Europe rather than in Germany for first projects.” Bloomberg noted that RWE is “discussing” a pilot project in the Desertec initiative, which aims to build renewable energy plants in north Africa and the Middle East.
As the country begins to shut nuclear reactors, due to Japan’s Fukushima situation, the utility plans to invest US$6.6 billion on renewables, with most of the funds going towards offshore wind farms. However, RWE noted that the country is also reducing solar subsidies, and combined with fewer hours of sunshine, the utility plans to look outside the country for possible solar projects.