Energy Policy, Vol.117, 279-294, 2018
Sale of profitable but unaffordable PV plants in Spain: Analysis of a real case
The Spanish photovoltaic industry was stunningly successful during 2007-2010, fostered by a favourable feed-in tariff system. Nevertheless, the cost overrun of this promotion policy led to government legislation against existing PV plants. Although these investments will be profitable when the subsidy ends, according to the last law enacted in Spain (IRR = 7.4%), either a massive sale to vulture funds or the abandonment of PV plants is being planned. Owners are unable to cover the loans through which they were originally financed. In this scenario, investors find it more profitable to cancel all operational expenditures and allocate this working capital to cover their loans, although this measure implies a 22% energy reduction. This study analyses a representative Spanish PV plant based on real energy and economic data. The analysis shows the turn from an attractive IRR = 10.14% to a situation with limitations where the owner injects money annually to overcome potential bankruptcy of the investment. This paper reflects the influence of promotion policies in the profitability of PV plants. Additionally, the adverse legal framework in Spain identifies a profitable but unaffordable scenario, highlighting the differences between the economic and financial performance of a PV investment.