A 500 megawatt solar photovoltaic plant, described by Spanish utility Iberdrola as “Europe’s largest,” sent its first megawatt hour of energy to the grid earlier this week, a welcome bright spot for an industry that in the months ahead could experience difficulties brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. The Núñez de Balboa facility is located in Extremadura, a region in the west of Spain. According to Iberdrola, it has over 1.4 million solar panels and will be able to supply energy to 250,000 people per year. The plant is a collaboration between Iberdrola and Ecoenergías del Guadiana and construction work on the project finished in December last year. Photovoltaic refers to a way of directly converting light from the sun into electricity. While the commissioning of Núñez de Balboa is an undoubted positive, the solar industry, like many in the renewable energy sector, is facing up to difficulties caused by COVID-19. Earlier this week, research and consultancy firm Wood Mackenzie said global solar installations for 2020 had been revised down from 129.5 gigawatts (GW) to 106.4 GW, which represents an 18% drop compared to pre-coronavirus levels.

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