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Published on March 10th, 2016 | by Glenn Meyers


Parliament In Spain Removes Punitive ‘Sun Tax’

March 10th, 2016 by  

Spain’s solar association Union Espanola Fotovoltaica (UNEF) reports a majority of members in the Spanish parliament have signed an agreement removing a controversial Royal Decree against self-consumption of solar energy, also known as the ‘sun tax.’ The agreement has been made within 100 days of a new government being formed.

Spain flag shutterstock_326056577Although Spain has not formed a government following general elections last year, 227 members of parliament agreed last week to remove negative policies against solar self-consumption should a majority government be formed out of the signatories of the agreement.

According to PV-Tech, the conservative Partido Popular party, which backs policies against solar self-consumption, also called the ‘sun tax’ on energy produced and consumed without feeding the grid, currently has just 120 seats.

José Donoso, UNEF general director, has said this current agreement needs to be approved formally in parliament, but Spain is currently in a “complicated” political situation and it is unclear if a government will be formed soon or if new general elections will have to take place in June.

If a government is formed by signatories of this agreement, the parties have agreed to approve removing the ‘sun tax’ within 100 days, and will approve a net metering system. It is also hoped these parties will simplify the administrative policies for solar.

Last June, UNEF said a “sun tax” would make solar uneconomical even for self-consumption, adding net-metering policies found in most other Mediterranean countries. Mediterranean countries with net metering include Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Cyprus.

Daniel Pérez, attorney at Holtrop S.L.P, the firm which wrote the new agreement document, said it is critical for owners of existing installations for the changes to come in by 10 April.

“The Royal Decree was approved on 10 October and it ruled that existing installations have six months (up to 10 April) to adapt to the new norm. If the Royal Decree is not removed before 10 April, owners of existing installations will have to make costly adaptations such as including a meter and connecting to the grid. New installations would not be affected by the deadline as they are likely to be installed with the necessary technical specifications of the decree anyway.”

For any of this to take effect, a government still needs to be formed.

Net metering policies vary considerably in different states in the US.

Image: Spain flag via Shutterstock

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About the Author

is a writer, producer, and director. Meyers was editor and site director of Green Building Elements, a contributing writer for CleanTechnica, and is founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he’s been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.

  • Robbie Robinson

    Delighted to hear the news. Sunny Lanzarote.

  • Peter Clatworthy

    I would go further. No building permission granted without a minimum of 33 percent of the roof being covered in solar panels and a compulsory net consumption contract with an approved energy supply company … and a total ban on ugly, inefficient, unreliable, expensive wind farms.

  • Ronald Brakels

    Please get rid of that nonsense, Spain! It will give Australia’s Coal-ition one less thing to aspire to.

    Actually I don’t know if the Coal-ition would have anything left to aspire to without that. Everything else seems to be aniti-aspirations, that is, negatives. I mean look at the slogans they are trailing in my electorate:

    “If you float on a boat you’ll be treated worse than a goat.”
    “Fast internet is for losers. Copper wire gets me higher. And this whole internet thing is just a passing fad anyway.”
    “Bush fires are just mother nature’s way of telling us the atmosphere wants more carbon dioxide.”
    “Children are our future so we are working hard to make sure you can’t afford contraceptives.”

  • Hans

    Great that the sun tax might be removed. I am not sure sure net metering is a good idea in Spain. It would over-subsidise PV. This would lead to a boom in in the building of PV systems, rising costs for people without PV systems, a bad name for PV and a bust when a new government overreacts and subtracts all support and thinks out new taxes on PV. In short: a repetition of everything that went wrong the last fifteen years.

    The ideal solution would be a modest feed-in-tariff that indirectly stimulates sensible use of storage and gradually prepares for amarket based system, for example via a time-of-day tariff, or a (partial) coupling of the tariff to the spot market price.

    • ROBwithaB

      The favourable feed-in tariffs were supposed to be an incentive for early adopters. But those favourable tariffs are only viable if solar makes up a small percentage of total supply. If the same feed-in tariffs are demanded by everybody (even those who recently installed much cheaper panels) then the costs of electricity on the grid will actually increase. If this is the case, such policy might actually lead to LESS solar on the grid. The Law of Unintended Consequences, and all that.
      In the long run, the only thing that makes sense is for feed-in tariffs to be based on the wholesale electricity price. And for that price to fluctuate with supply and demand.

      In a country with good insolation like Spain, solar is presumably already competitive with other forms of generation. Continuing to subsidise new installations will obviously lead to a position of unsustainable oversupply. Knowing that this would happen eventually, and that the national budget could not afford to continue subsidising electricity forever, there would be a certain amount of “territory-grabbing” going on. This would cause powerful cartels to form to take advantage of the free money, which will try to restrict the installation of solar by others. They will try to keep the gravy for themselves, a lot like the incumbent fossil fuel industry.
      The “incubation” subsidies have done their job. It is now time for the government to get out of the way.

      • wattleberry

        Up to now, logic has not been a prominent characteristic of Spanish governance but it is apparent that the newer incumbents, having much more experience of the outside world, are well aware of its ‘clientilist’ tradition and failings and may be expected to use their wisdom in framing new laws.

    • ROBwithaB

      As to your last paragraph, Australia is busy leading the way in showing how that might work:

      Individual home-owners can essentially enter the wholesale spot market, with the help of some smart technology and (presumably) a third-party intermediary. With multiple intermediary companies, there would be very vigorous competition to drive electricity prices lower.
      This seems to be the way of the future.

  • neroden

    Thank goodness. This needed to happen a long time back.

  • wattleberry

    Hooray, a ray of hope.

  • JamesWimberley

    The odds are not in favour if a new coalition government being formed in one month. Spanish political parties have no experience of negotiating such governments. The initiative is more a signal that if one is formed, it will support solar.

  • Mike Dill

    Click-bait headline. The parties have ‘promised’ to remove the tax IF they can agree to form a government coalition, which still has not happened eight months after the election. There is a good chance that another election will have to be held if they cannot form a new government soon.

    • jeffhre

      Still much much better than yesterday.

    • neroden

      You know, they could remove the tax *without* forming a government.

      If they have majority Parliamentary support, forming a government is not actually necessary in order to pass a law and demand that the King sign it. Particularly one whose implementation is this simple. I’m not sure they’ve figured this out yet, since Parliamentarians often don’t understand the powers that they have.

    • BLight

      elections were end of December. Only 3 months have gone by…

  • Ross

    The existing rule is the sort of thing I’d expect to see in a US state suffering from regulatory capture by vested fossil fuel interests. It doesn’t inspire confidence about sunny Spain.

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