The Spanish Photovoltaic Union (UNEF) will meet this week with the different electricity distributors with the aim of ending one of the obstacles to self-consumption, such as the connection of solar panels to the electricity grid. The employer is collecting complaints from users who already have their installation set up but who have been waiting months for access to be granted.
In conversation with La Información, the general director of UNEF, José Donoso, points out that they are not acting quickly and that is why they are working to find solutions, which they will then transfer if necessary to the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the National Commission for Markets and Competition (CNMC). “First we will establish a dialogue process with the distributors. We are compiling the claims and demands that exist and, based on that, we will prepare a series of regulatory proposals. The distributors are not acting with the agility that is not adequate, that is why we want to propose regulatory solutions”, insists Donoso.
The Self-consumption Roadmap approved by the Government in December 2021 has already obtained the “adaptation of access and connection procedures”. However, getting an access point to the electricity grid continues to be the main obstacle to the use of self-consumption. In September of last year, UNEF presented a battery with 29 proposals, among which it stood out that the concession of the access point and connection to the network be automatic.
Currently, it is mandatory that all installations with more than 10 kilowatts (kW) of power and 15 kW on the ground request this access, which prevents many of them from materializing. For its part, the CNMC will need to extend the limit to 100 kW, while the photovoltaic employers go a step further and specify their request that all self-consumption projects with a nominal power equal to or less than that installed will not have to carry out this process. The main distributors in Spain are Endesa, Iberdrola, Unión Fenosa (Naturgy) and E.On (Viesgo).
Unification of requirements
The association also demands that positive administrative silence be incorporated for these procedures, given that the deadlines for obtaining them often exceed those set by law, for which reason they propose that in cases in which the response does not arrive on time, grant access automatically. In addition, considering that it is necessary to unify the technical conditions required by the different distributors and territorial delegations and that the communication between these actors and the applicant improve through a service or window that allows personal resolution.
Another request from UNEF is to end the delays in the compensation of surpluses, which take up to six months. Claim that it be reduced by a maximum of one or two weeks. According to Appa Renovables, the barriers to the discharge of excess energy into the electricity grid are causing miles of gigawatt hours (GWh) that are equivalent to hundreds of millions of euros to be wasted. There are two options for managing surpluses: by offsetting the invoice in the form of a discount or selling them directly to the network (this is where the administrative difficulty arises).
UNEF has been working to ensure that the autonomies adapt the autonomous urban planning laws to the reality of photovoltaic self-consumption and that this type of installations are processed through prior communication, greatly speeding up the administrative process. In fact, the elimination of the building permit for the installation of self-consumption solar panels ends the problem of waiting up to eight months. The Basque Country is the only autonomous community that maintains the requirement. The association estimates that in Spain there are more than 200,000 homes with solar panels for their own energy consumption.
Donoso sees another problem in the lack of qualified labor. There is a ‘boom’ of electricity self-consumption as a result of high energy prices and there is a lack of professionals with specialized training. In this sense, the Government will create 4,000 new Vocational Training places this year for programs related to renewable energies. The measure is included in the new item of 2,520 million euros to distribute in the form of scholarships to one million students.
In reference to the high demand to install solar panels, Donoso wants to make it clear that a “bubble” in self-consumption is not taking place, but that there is a high demand “motivated by two engines”: high energy costs and subsidies publications The Samara solar energy company confirms that the aid can lead to savings of 80% of the installation, which have an estimated price of between 5,000 and 8,000 euros on the market. “The main aids refer to the subsidies of the Next Generation program of the European Union, the personal income tax rebate and the possible IBI rebate”, they highlight from the company.
However, in this section a negative part is given again: the bureaucracy. According to Donoso, some consumers wait up to a year for the subsidy to be approved, while there are communities such as Madrid in which none of the applications already approved have yet to be paid. “It has taken time above all because the autonomous communities have had to organize teams, implement procedures… We trust that once these teams are implemented, all the procedures will go faster,” says the director.