In a legislature where photovoltaic self-consumption has multiplied by more than ten, the pending task that remains is to promote collective generation. According to specialists in the sector, the main “battle” is in the delays in the deadlines imposed by the distributors. Various experts consulted by EFE agree that the boost to self-consumption by the Government since 2018 -but above all as a result of Royal Decree Law 29/2021- has been, together with the rise in the price of natural gas and the Next Generation funds , an accelerator of this way of producing energy.
The change in national policy has been key, according to Laura Feijóo, coordinator of the self-consumption area of the renewable energy cooperative Ecooo, for the ‘boom’ that self-consumption is experiencing. From Ecooo they have been trying since 2017 to extend this practice in order to change the energy model towards one of renewable electricity and distributed generation.
However, then, “the first question they asked us was ‘but is this legal?'”, recalls Feijóo. In 2017, the so-called “sun tax” was still in force, which had been introduced by the previous legislature, with Mariano Rajoy at the helm of the executive. This tax was actually “never applied,” says the expert, but she highlighted a deterrent effect for which many people feared a penalty for putting solar panels on their homes.
From the 408 MW of photovoltaic distributed in 2019, it has risen to the current 5,211 MW, especially thanks to the strong impulse of 2022, the year in which 2,649 MW of self-consumption were installed in Spain, according to data collected by the association of Renewable Energy Companies (APPA Renovables).
Royal Decree Law 29/2021 adds a new strong impulse to the development of self-consumption, since it allows its connection to the grid in any type of voltage and updates the sanctioning regime for distributors and marketers that extend processing times. Currently, there are 298,000 installations in homes, 217,000 of which have been carried out in the last year, according to estimates from APPA Renovables. In addition, there are 54,000 industrial facilities, and almost half of these are new.
Ismael Morales, head of Climate Policies at Fundación Renovables, also highlights some measures that have been taken at the regional and municipal level that have contributed to the expansion of photovoltaic self-consumption, such as tax incentives and deductions -the bonus is in the IBI, for example – or the elimination of the building license requirement to install the plates on the roofs.
This requirement, which translates into waiting up to eight months from the application until the license is granted, is only required today in three autonomous communities: Cantabria, the Basque Country and Murcia. “In the remaining 14 communities, to process a self-consumption solar installation, all that is required is prior communication to the public administration,” precisely the expert.
The pending issue of this legislature, the consulted specialists agree, is collective self-consumption, and there “the battle”, they point out, is with the distributors. “In some cases, the distributor’s protocols do not allow several consumers associated with a facility to be able to enjoy the energy generated, making collective self-consumption impossible or definitively delaying, despite the fact that the regulation allows it,” Morales points out.
Fijóo, for his part, speaks directly of “blockages” on the part of the distributors who are discovering “a lot of concern and weariness” in the sector, he regrets. “After getting a lot of people to agree to launch a shared self-consumption project, get the financing and do the installation, you find yourself with a blockade that can last even a year,” denounces the expert.