Spain’s sunshine going to waste

Government’s stance discourages small-scale energy producers

With its year round sunshine and ever-increasing electricity costs, Spain should be the perfect subject for continued R&D in the solar energy industry.

As any disgruntled household bill payer in Spain can attest, the country has the fourth-highest electricity prices in Europe, averaging out at a monthly rate of €80 per person.

In the last decade, technological advancements in the field have made it easier for people and businesses to produce their own electricity with guidance and backing from organisations such as Plataforma para un Nuevo Modelo Energetico (Platform for a New Energy Model) and Som Energia (We Are Energy).

Self-production is a costly process and producers often find themselves out-of pocket initially, with equipment costing tens of thousands of euros.

Historically, the Spanish government offered subsidies to self-producers, as well as helpful schemes to buy surplus energy from producers for public use.

However, recent reports tell a different story for small-scale renewable producers today. If draft legislation gets the go ahead in congress and from Brussels, the payment system for surplus energy will be revoked and subsidies will no longer be readily available. In fact, those self-producers who conserve their solar power in batteries, to use at night, will face additional taxation.

The prevailing explanation for this shift is that the government is protecting the country´s main electricity producers and distributors.

The government´s policy on self-production is starkly different to that of its European neighbours, many have which have embraced the process and introduced schemes to encourage conservation and allow nighttime use of surplus energy, without the hefty price tag.

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