Government Policy Makes Solar Power Unattractive In Land Of Sunshine

Environmentalist and author Chris Stewart at his organic farm in the Alpujarras, where solar power is the only source of electricity
Environmentalist and author Chris Stewart at his organic farm in the Alpujarras, where solar power is the only source of electricity. He has been scathing about the draft regulations

Monumentally daft regulations proposed by the current Spanish Government would make solar-power generation at home economically unviable, despite Spain’s natural abundance of sunshine, as this article in the Spanish daily El Pais explains.

Adaptation and translation of an article published by El Pais.

The Spanish Photovoltaic Union (Unef in Spanish) has accused the Spanish government of “deliberately closing all doors to energy self-sufficiency” with the new law currently being prepared by the Ministry of Industry who say it will be passed during this parliamentary term. José Donoso, managing director of Unef, claimed last Friday that Spain is the only country that is preparing legislation to “prevent the development” of energy self-sufficiency.

Unef, acting for 300 companies in the sector, estimates that the changes in legislation being prepared by the government will mean that the average consumer will take 31 years to get back the investment needed to install an energy self-sufficiency system. When it comes to a small company, the threshold for return would be seven and a half years.

The Ministry has presented a draft version of the law it intends to pass to the National Commission for Markets and Competition (CNMC in Spanish), and opened the draft to public consultation.

The proposed changes are highly controversial because of the charge – previously known as “back-up toll” – envisaged for those who intend to connect to mains electricity to sell their surplus back, yet draw power from it when necessary.

The problem is, for example in the case of solar photovoltaics, that the times when electricity is being generated don’t tend to coincide with those of highest demand. This, in addition to the lack of suitably competitive storage batteries on the market, makes it necessary for most home owners to with solar panels to also have a mains connection.

Donoso criticised the extra charges the Ministry of Industry wants those who connect to the mains to pay. The Ministry’s argument is that whoever wants to use the infrastructure should pay for it. If they don’t, then other consumers will have to shoulder the cost.

Unef isn’t against having to pay, but criticises the way those who opt for self-sufficiency over other sources are penalised with higher costs. “Energy self-sufficiency should be treated like any other means of efficiency,” the association said. However, the Ministry’s argument is that “no advantage should be given to those who are self-sufficient over those who aren’t”.

The law sets fixed charges depending on the power rating and other variables related to electricity consumption. According to Donoso, the worst part of the future law is that it also charges tax on the electricity produced.

Unef is also against the veto of access to the network of photovoltaic and wind power installations that use batteries. In the long term, when storage battery technology improves, this rule will mean consumers end up disconnecting from the network, Donoso forecasts.

This association highlights that the draft version of the law prohibits those who “benefit from reduced and low energy rates from being energy self-sufficient”.

In addition, Donoso is highly critical of the sanctions structure, which includes fines of up to €60 million “for installations that do not fit into the new regulations”, which will have retroactive effects. “This disproportionate amount is double the fine envisaged for nuclear leaks,” Unef claims. However, according to Donoso, “no judge in their right mind would apply it”.

Related article: Spanish Government plans to penalise renewable energy generation at home

Spanish Property Insight adapts and translates selected articles from the local press for the benefit of non-Spanish speakers.

This translation is based on the following article (in Spanish): Hasta 31 años para hacer rentables los paneles solares de un domicilio

SPI Member Comments

Thoughts on “Government Policy Makes Solar Power Unattractive In Land Of Sunshine

    • The previous actions by the current ruling party that allows for the ‘solar panel police’ to break down your door to do an inspection for tax purposes without a judge’s consent was enough to prevent me from installing solar panels. This current effort to further punish those who, at great expense, choose to not increase “greenhouse gasses”, is not logical, so I have to ask ‘who benefits from this’ ? Is this proposed law another example of corruption or is it just idiocy ? Not to mention that air pollution in Barcelona seems worse this year, than in the previous 10 years.

  • Roy Benahavis says:

    No sense to try to give a logical comment either way on this subject as it just all absolutely typical of the Spanish State and their behaviour almost contempt for the intelligence of their citizens and non residents.
    This is not even a political situation as whatever Government has been in power and in the Automonous Regions they have all been guily of this indefensible style behaviour;

    Just such a great pity that in such a lovely country with such a beautiful culture the Authorities seem continuously bent on alienating the people who live here and introducing policies; laws and draconIan enforecement measures which are beginning to drive people away.

    • …& where could they run to?, since Corporate Fascism(Government controlled by & for corporate interests) has it’s iron grip on every country in the Western World & beyond.

      Think it’s bad now, just wait ’til they do away with cash entirely. Then the real fun’ll begin!

      Brave new World heh!

      • Roy Benahavis says:

        Was not my intention to get into any political argument on this nor score any political points but in terms of where could they run to –
        – UK has no inheritance tax between spouses:/ has no requiement to decalre ww assets ( only Spain has brough this in )
        – Portugal has no inheritance tax and for ex pats zero tax on income from outside Portugal for ex pats
        – Belgium has no wealth tax and minimal inheritance tax between spouses
        -Italy has no inheritance tax betwwen spouses
        – Countries like Belgium/Germany/France etc with far less sun than Spain actively encourage solar pawer and even pay people for any excess electricity they produce and not the other way round etc etc

        List is endless and none of these countries have anything close to the tax ‘violation’ penalties that Spain has recently introduced whereby the fine could be as much as or even more than the actual items not disclosed- this is the policy of a fourth world country not a member of the EU.

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