Spain is a country that enjoys many hours of sun a day and well distributed throughout the year, so it is, in this sense, a good candidate for the construction and development of photovoltaic solar energy facilities. Our country was one of the first countries in the world in solar energy research and development (photovoltaic and solar thermal) and, as a result, many Spanish companies are construction companies and technologists working around the world.
However, what has hindered the evolution of solar photovoltaics on the peninsula? We do a brief review of the history of photovoltaic solar energy in Spain through its Royal Decrees (RD), which play a fundamental role in the development of this industry:
RD 2818 / 1998
RD 661/2007 (with the previous announcement of regulatory change the RD 7/2006)
RD 1578 / 2008
Royal Decree 2818 / 1998 of 23 December On electricity production by facilities supplied by resources or sources of renewable energy, waste, and cogeneration.
This Royal Decree establishes the remuneration of the energy discharged. The installations that do not participate in the market of production receive, in addition, a complement according to the reactive energy yielded. This Royal Decree establishes that the premiums must be updated annually, according to a series of parameters, and revised every four years. For photovoltaic installations, the premiums will be applied until 50 MW have been installed in Spain (in 1998 the tariffs were 66 pesetas / kWh for installations of less than 5 kW, and 36 pesetas for those of more than 5 kW, whereas in 2004 were already 40 c € / kWh and 22 c € / kWh, respectively).
Royal Decree 436/2004 of March 12by which establishes the legal and economic regime of the activity of production of electrical energy in special regime.
This Decree defines that the revision of the tariffs, bonuses and incentives will be held every 4 years from 2006, and will only affect the new facilities. RD 2818/98 of 23 December is repealed. For photovoltaic installations up to 100 kW, a payment of 575% of the TMR (Average or Reference Rate) is given during the first years, and then 80% of that amount over the lifetime of the installation. These conditions will be maintained until 150 MW are installed in Spain.
Royal Decree-Law 7/2006 of 23 June by which urgent measures are adopted in the energy sector, the variation in the premiums of the special regime of the average electric rate or reference (TMR) is disassociated.
A change of regulatory framework is announced for six months. During this period, several drafts are reviewed that destabilize the sector.
Royal Decree 661/2007 of 25 may, by establishing the legal and economic regime of the activity of production of electrical energy in special regime.
It defines that the revision of the tariffs, bonuses and incentives will be realized every 4 years from 2010 in which the first review will proceed. RD 436/2004 of 12 March is repealed. The remuneration of the facilities with respect to the TMR is canceled, and its remuneration is indexed with respect to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). These conditions will be maintained until 371 MW are installed in Spain.
The first photovoltaic plant connected to the grid in Spain took place in 1984 when a 100 kWp pilot plant was installed in San Agustín de Guadalix. During those years, the Spanish photovoltaic market focused on the supply of isolated photovoltaic applications. It will not be until 1993 when four other network connection systems are installed in private homes, followed by other projects.
These installations find a legal loophole, since Spain did not have a legal regulation of the electrical system for the renewable ones. The first regulatory decree for photovoltaic energy sources in our country is the 2818 / 1998. It recognizes as necessary a specific treatment for this alternative and sets premiums of 36 or 66 pesetas per kWh which is sent to the network for systems above and below 5 kWp respectively.
But it was not until the 2000s, when Spain begins its take-off in the sector of photovoltaic solar energy. Thanks to the Royal Decree 436/2004 and the RD 661/2007 Spain was one of the countries with the highest installed photovoltaic power in the world in 2008, with 2,708 MW in one year.
As of September 2008, the situation began to change. The RD 1578 / 2008 photovoltaic remuneration establishes variable premiums depending on where the installation is located (floor or roof) with a maximum annual installed capacity. This Royal Decree 1578/2008 slowed down from the date the installation of new photovoltaic plants in the country. In 2009 and 2010, only 19 MW and 420 MW were installed respectively and in 2011 354 MW were achieved.
In 2016, the largest photovoltaic plants in Spain are the Photovoltaic Park of Puertollano (70 MW), the Photovoltaic Park of Olmedilla de Alarcón (60 MW) and the Solar Plant La Magascona and La Magasquilla (30 MW), among others.
What happened as of 2008?
Since September 2008 the installation of photovoltaic plants in Spain has fallen due to the obstacles that the State has imposed on legislation. At present, access to the electricity grid in Spain requires different permits from the administration and the electricity company operating in the area. The company has an obligation to provide a point of connection to the electricity grid, but the paperwork and the reluctance of the electric companies are holding back the momentum of solar photovoltaic energy in our country.
These difficulties are reflected in the RD 900/2015 Which establishes “the obligation of self-consumption facilities to contribute to the financing of the costs and services of the system in the same amount as the rest of consumers”, that is to say, the State intends to levy taxes on the energy discharged to the network as a result of the excess production. The distributors should be collecting entities, which do not have the capacity to do so, and consequently force facilities to ensure a zero discharge to network, missing a possible production of sustainable energy for the system. This is known as the “Sun tax”
Even so, from BESTER we are committed to a correct and appropriate study so that the facilities can enjoy economic and social interest optimizing each term of the contracting of self-consumption (generation and consumption), denoting that the photovoltaic technology is the future and can overcome any difficulty imposed.
Spain is a country with great potential for photovoltaic solar energy, since it is an area where there are on average some 2,800 hours of sunshine a year. We only need to overcome these legal hurdles to become leaders in renewable energy.
Why should we bet on self-consumption?