Spain, faced with the challenge of installing more solar panels: "There are 150,000 self-consumption installations and in Germany, 2 million"

Spain, faced with the challenge of installing more solar panels: "There are 150,000 self-consumption installations and in Germany, 2 million"

A year with skyrocketing electricity prices is leading to a growing interest in fill roofs with solar panels with which to self-supply with electricity and snip the electricity bill. A 'boom' that is far from being a 'bubble', because Spain has a long way to go when compared to what is happening in European markets, where self-consumption is much more developed.

"We are at a time of updating everything that had not been done. For example, in Spain we have some 150,000 self-consumption installations and in Germany there are two million," says Daniel Pérez, vice president of the Spanish Photovoltaic Union (Unef). , the main association of the sector. "We are very far from a bubble, because there is a lot of room for growth. We could reach a million self-consumption installations in two or three years," he adds.

There is room and appetite because the rise in energy prices that began a year ago, seasoned by the war in Ukraine and the threat that Russia will close the gas tap this winter, have once again put self-consumption in the focus of consumers individuals, have single-family homes or live in neighborhood communities. "It is logical that people want to put plates now, but this is not just a temporary issue. We are facing stable growth," adds the Unef representative.

That Spain has been stepping on the accelerator in self-consumption for months -although there is still a long way to go- is also recognized by the Institute for Energy Diversification and Saving (IDAE). Its general director, Joan Groizard, highlighted this Monday that the possibilities of increasing electricity generation with solar panels and self-consumption are much more immediate and economical than opting for other alternatives, such as nuclear energy advocated by right-wing political formations. "Last year alone, 1.2 GW of self-consumption, of solar panels on rooftops, were installed," he pointed out in a interview on Cadena Ser. Instead, "to install 1 GW of nuclear power takes 20 years and much more investment." A rate of placement of solar panels that, Groizard assured, is doubling every year. "They can be installed even if hundreds or thousands of communities of neighbors, companies, public administrations are needed, that they put the batteries or put the plates", she ironized.

The goal that Spain has set is to ensure that, by the end of this decade, 75% of the electricity generated in Spain is of renewable origin. Of that percentage, according to the IDAE, 14 GW would come from self-consumption. But they can be more. "Based on the projections we are seeing, it could be even more. The Spanish are installing more solar panels on their roofs than we had anticipated since 2018," Groizard deepened. This year the so-called 'sun tax' was eliminated and the processing of this type of facilities was facilitated.

The photovoltaic employers delve into a similar sense, in how these objectives, today, can be exceeded if there is ambition both to be more self-sufficient, and to reduce external energy dependence. Objectives that, in the end, go hand in hand. "We know that the goal is to reach 39 GW [de fotovoltaica] in 2030," says Daniel Pérez. In recent weeks, solar generation has accounted for around 12% of the total, although on some days of extreme heat - when solar panels are less efficient - it has fallen to almost 6%. However, from Faced with these objectives by 2030, photovoltaics can account for between 20% and 25% of total generation, in annual terms.

"The important thing is not only how much solar energy we produce, but also how much dirty energy we have displaced," adds the vice president of Unef. "Each kWh we make from solar is one kWh less than what we bought from Putin and, in the current situation, that is very important." More solar production in general, again, more self-consumption. This, says Daniel Pérez, "has a lot to say, because it is a way to connect very quickly. If you make a decision today about self-consumption, in two months you can have the installation done and that would already be noticeable this winter. Even if they are small installations of self-consumption, a million small installations are very noticeable", he emphasizes. And to that is added the savings on the electricity bill that, according to the IDAE, can be between 30% and 60%.

Beyond self-consumption, the photovoltaic sector is in full swing, also in the heat of large international investors who see the start-up of large solar plants as a pillar of their profitability in the medium and long term. And, in the middle, two questions. On the one hand, that the authorizations by the administrations -especially regional ones- are being delayed, even in a situation like the current one, where there is a certain rush to be as self-sufficient as possible and with the Government about to present a energy contingency. On the other, because there are many projects that, for one reason or another, fall by the wayside.

Regarding the slowness in giving the green light to connect completed projects, Unef reports that "there are many solar plants that are built and are waiting for paperwork, for example, because an authorization from an autonomous community is missing." Daniel Pérez cites Andalusia, Extremadura or Castilla-La Mancha as examples of regions where there are delays. "Portugal has made an accelerated procedure that says 'if you are built and you have passed the security criteria, connect and then we will do the bureaucracy'; connect now because it is a matter of national emergency."

The underlying problem, he indicates, is that "surely there is a lack of means." "The administration is not sized, nor is Red Eléctrica to take on as many projects as there are. The administration must be sized based on the needs of the country and now, each solar plant that is connected is good for the country, because it is less dependency energy and it is cleaner and cheaper light".

In parallel there are many projects that are drawn on paper but that do not materialize. "When you have to reach 39 GW connected, you have to do twice as much because there are projects that are going to fall. Because when you start you don't know what environmental, urban or fire response they are going to give you," argues the vice president of Unef.

How many fall? There are estimates. "It depends a lot on the regions, but there are developers who say that they usually go ahead one in 4 or 5 projects." Where there are problems, currently, is in Castilla y León, after the Government headed by Alfonso Fernández Mañueco has limited the installation of solar plants to less than 500 meters from urban centers, including industrial estates, which affects projects that had already started to walk. On the other hand, among the communities where processing is easier, the person in charge of Unef cites Extremadura, the Balearic Islands and Catalonia.

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