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”.
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