16 Apr, 2016 @ 08:45
1 min read

Solar panel law in Spain could cost thousands of independent energy producers millions in fines

solar power

solar power 3GREEN groups are fighting a drastic new law that could see thousands of expat solar panel owners facing millions in fines.

Any owners who have failed to register their photovoltaic (PV) installations and connect to the national grid by this week are facing fines of up to €60million, claims Greenpeace.

The new law that was passed in October last year, makes producing your own photovoltaic electricity entirely unprofitable.

Under draconian rules, government inspectors have now been given the right to break into homes to check panels are registered and properly connected.

A Greenpeace petition with more than 60,000 signatures against the ‘impractical and indefensible’ fines has so far been completely ignored by the PP government.

“Rajoy’s government is protecting the interests of Iberdrola and other big electricity companies, obstructing democracy and refusing to combat climate change,” Greenpeace campaign manager Sara Pizzinato told the Olive Press.

“Every party except the PP has now rejected it so we are hoping for a new government that will allow self-sufficient consumption to grow,” she added.

The hefty sun tax has been very damaging to Spain’s green economy.

John Wolfendale, CEO of green building firm Eco Vida Homes, claims solar panels are now becoming too expensive and too risky to use.

“It’s barely worth it anymore and a real backwards step for Spain,” he explained.

“It is becoming common for clients to refuse panels because of they are worried about these completely crazy taxes and laws.”

A spokesman for the government’s Department of Industry said: “Solar panel owners with non-regulation systems will be fined, it’s as simple as going over 120km per hour on the motorway.”

Iona Napier

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  1. Maybe if Spain provided a decent affordable install of electricity there wouldn’t be a need for solar power! I deal with loads of client who don’t have the luxury of mains and they have no choice. These clients bring thousands of € into the local economy and
    shouldn’t be up against this ridiculous law!!!

    • Good question Mr. Shaw. The last (arrogant) paragraph in this report would seem to make it mandatory to be connected to the grid, in order to legally use solar panels.
      Suppose that it is impossible to do so? Does that mean one is compelled to use a generator or even a wind turbine? Or would ANY alternative generation be subject to this vicious, corrupt new proposal?

  2. I have solar panels and I am connected to the grid. This is just for heating water. I did not realise any of this was going on.
    What does this mean for me?

    • If the solar panels are for water heating – a panel, cylinder or tubes with water running through, there is no problem even if there is an electric pump. But if electricity is generated – as opposed to just heating water – then there is a problem.
      From the point of view of Spanish electrical monopolies, there are two reasons why electricity generating panels shouldn’t be can’t be connected to the grid unless done by their own company technicians:
      1- Spanish electric companies are powerful monopoly controlled by especially PP interests, and they want to maintain profits for themselves and the sub-contracors who supply and install panels and controllers;
      2 – incorrect connection by consumers can cause fluctuations in the grid and problems further down stream.
      Of course, the electric monopolies/political interests use 2 – to justify 1- in order to raise their profits. Several years ago I considered going completely off the grid, which I believe is still possible, but the monopoly supplied equipment to cost twice what I would pay elsewhere. The same goes for wind generators.

  3. All the negative articles like this in the press recently, and attention grabbing headlines are just plain misleading and irresponsible. This is not news. The law was passed 6 months ago and the time allowed for existing grid-tie systems to conform to the new requirements (6 months) is now up. The majority of existing systems were not registered by their owners, as a form of civil disobedience, and also because a change of government and therefore repeal of the law is very likely. Also, the actual costs imposed on registered systems are not very high for typical household sized systems (<50€/year). I wonder if the author of this article even bothered to read the RD900/2015??

    • Do you realise how outrageous, is the idea of paying a Government for the light that falls from the sun?
      What next, a meter fixed to all cojones to collect a “small “tax on use?

      • Yes, I realise the idea of paying for a free resource is sickening and I absolutely disagree with the tax and the law, and find it incredible they passed it! However, I also disagree with the type of reporting that goes on that does not explain the facts and makes the situation worse. The truth is that solar installations can be profitable for many consumers, despite the tax and paperwork. The government have made some really bad and uninformed decisions which have had a negative effect on the solar industry, but articles like this are scaremongering and only serve to make the situation worse. Maybe next they will tax people who grow their own food…

      • stefanjo, had to smile. You do realize how outrageous it is that being a expat resident in Spain you cannot even vote in their general election. What was that famous statement you made:
        “Those without a vote are irrelevant, have no power and are just blowing in the wind”.

        For someone that doesn’t like leaving a tip a proposed yearly €50 payment must be devastating. That old saying comes to mind “You reap what you sow”.

  4. Haha, “It’s as simple as going over 120 km per hour on the motorway”. From my German perspective I may agree:We go much above 120 km per hour and we heavily use private green power which sends our powermonopolies into deep depression, as they are forced by German law to take any amount of private solar and wind energy onto their grid which sun and wind are able to produce and they have to pay some 11 Eurocents per kwh to the private owner, while private consumption of self produced green energy is totally free of charge.

  5. It seems to be the same in France. If you apply to build a house and EDF finds it too expensive to connect you to the grid, your application will be turned down, so no freedom of choice when big business objects. Does the EU protect your right to choose – don’t make me laugh.

    Southern Spain is a natural for renewables, that was the main reason for me to move to there to build alt. energy houses. Before I knew that the Schools of Architecture had total control on what was built, not from a quality point of view but to protect their awful building ‘standards’ and the profits of ‘developers’.

    The cost of P/V has fallen dramatically and withing a few years output will rise at least 40%. So it’s perfectly possible to create enough electricity to not need to be connected to the grid, especially if a house is built using the right materials and jettisoning wasteful and unnecessary appliances like dishwashers and tumble driers, use LED lights and solar heated hot water. Biggest energy guzzlers – stupid upright fridges and freezers, instead of 5 * chest freezers, our big Liebherr uses just 69-72W, whereas our upright small fridge uses 150W. and building properly designed larders, negating the need for a fridge.

    Two reasons to go independent – no rip-off standing charges from utilities and control of electricity which is vital for a modern life. I think that in northern Europe viability with today’s efficiency ratings is debateable but in southern Spain, Italy, Portugal it’s a no brainer if it was’nt for the political whores who must obey the dictats of their masters – big business.

    • In Asturias the Colegio Oficial de Arquitectos de Asturias – COAA is the main culprit. The U of Oviedo’s Department of Energy in the old School of Mines started an insulation program in the universities at both Gijon and Oviedo, but CA level political factions and the COAA lobbied against it, forcing the Uni to dismantle its solar panels operating their test laboratory. The Department of Energy director told me the main problem was the COAA, which controls applied standards through municipal tecnicos and to a lessor degree, architects. Because project approval is applied at the municipal level, local political economic interests are added into interests of the COAA, making design and material technology processes subject to both COAA control and corrupt local notables.
      Many architects – in Asturias, at least – want to do sustainable projects, but are stymied by the COAA, which is controlled by cement and brick manufacturing interests, and-or municipal councils influenced by corrupt local interests. If they are on the wrong side of COAA policy, they cease getting project approval, ending their practices.
      This was borne out by a past Director General de Ordenación del Territorio y Urbanismo, now returned to U Don Carlos III in Madrid, who tried for years to change construction standards to sustainable technologies, but could not get past COAA. I worked with him and a Spanish architect trained in Canada and the USA providing his office technical information and new standards. All was rejected by a COAA top official, who referred to panel technologies as ‘gaseosa’.
      The COAA’s powers go back to the Middle Ages – they were originally the ‘fuero’, i.e., association, which negotiated a percentage of costs to spread out among the stone masons, drayage, etc., and kept track of amounts os materials, that is, functioned as quantity surveyors. Current architects will tell you that the modern version of the medieval quantity surveyor, the aparejador, has much more power than do the architects because they can veto any project if the percentages aren’t ‘spread around’ to their and the junta’s liking. Indeed, its often the ‘tecnico’ implicated in bribe and collusion cases throughout Spain. This will not change until there is structural change at the national level to curtail this atavistic medieval guild.
      In my own sustainable project I had the support of Director General de Ordenación, the Alcalde and the U of Oviedo, but the aparejadores were instructed by the COAA not to pass favorably on the project.
      The Director of Ordenacion for Asturias also support our proposed wind turbine, but then the government changed to the PP/Foro coalition, and we dropped it as we didn’t have the stomach for any more wind mill jousting.

  6. Chas,
    Spain, like a lot of southern Europe has never really advanced from the days of the conquistadores, even talking with techies that’s where they are stuck.

    I like what Joni said in her brilliant ‘Blue’ LP – (Europe) so old and cold and settled in it’s ways – y esta.

  7. I have lived all over the world and never have I seen outrageous bills from Endesa. Going off grid and using a small wind turbine and solar panels is a choice I have to make to survive here. I have a strong feeling if I pay the tax they have invented for their usage I will still pay less than the incredible bills for electricity I get. Does anyone know of a company that can install a small wind turbine in my garden which sits on top of hill and gets wind from the sea. My property is 2,000 square meters so it cannot be too big. There was a company in Ronda that supplied these things but I have lost track of it. Andy

  8. I just don’t get it. We bought a fully off-grid, solar-powered house with 11,000 sq. m of land to start a small glamping site in Nov 2014. Since then, I’ve poured over €40,000 into the business, benefitting local tradesmen and builder’s merchants. But I simply can’t understand the way this naturally blessed country is run!

    I was improving the appearance of an 80m long, concrete block wall along the front of our property back in the summer. It was a real eyesore, with ripped green canvas screening wired up above the bare blocks. I was covering it with white capa fina (Marmolina) and bamboo screening, in place of the ripped canvas.

    The Town Hall secretary was taking his usual evening walk past our house with his wife. We waved and smiled at each other, but then he walked over and said that he didn’t recall seeing my ‘authorisation’ to do it! I asked, somewhat surprised, “do I need authorisation to improve the appearance of my wall?”. Yes, he replied. Amazed, U told him I’d go to the Town Hall the next morning, which I did. However, after telling a neighbour the story, he said they were old friends from school and he’d have a word with him. This he did and he hasn’t bothered us since!

    I’m just disappointed that unless you’re long life friends with politicians here, or are prepared to pay hefty bribes (we’ve heard many stories), it seems you can’t do a thing!

    We actually came here for a fresh start as we came up against the same situation with corrupt councils in central Southern England, which prevented us from doing anything with a piece of land, but charged us £300 for ‘pre-planning application advice’!

    When I drive around our area (Granada Province) and see some of the shit that’s been thrown up in an unfinished state, it just makes me despair.

    We live near a beautiful lake where our Town Hall built a smart, contemporary kayak rental facility – 3 years ago and it’s still not open because they’re waiting for permission from Granada! It seems to be a country run by corrupt morons who just can’t see the potential rural tourism they have right under their noses.

    Does anyone know of any decent country on this planet which is run by honest, sensible people who put the interests of the planet, the environment and their own people above their own greed? I very much doubt it.

    • James, a country like that maybe Costa Rica. But I don’t have first hand experience, just read a lot about what they do (and do it well). Sorry to hear about your troubles. I am embarking on a solar roof installation and gathering info at the moment. Hopefully I will have a little luck here in Southern Spain

  9. Life has its frustrations . . . . . . wherever one may find oneself in Europe. The Duke of Wellington certainly found Spain hugely frustrating. I am not convinced by many of the comments here – are the UK’s antics with energy any less bizarre ? Is the matter of corruption in the UK a lesser issue than in Spain ? No, it is as endemic as it is here, and indeed throughout Europe. It’s simply different.
    Living outside one’s country, wherever this may be, and unless one has “gone native” ( a Boris Johnson ), naturally gives rise to a degree of vulnerability. Arriving here when it was still believed that Europe Ends At The Pyrenees, ( ok, go ahead and ask my age) the transformation of Spain is a remarkable story, it’s potential still not realised. Just a matter of living with our decisions, goo or bad.

    • Spain’s corruption is worse according to both studies and anecdotal evidence, especially at the municipal level where land, construction and permits are concerned.

  10. Hi All

    I am looking to install a small, probably off grid system 2kw 6 panels, owing to space difficulties. Off grid for the simplicity, but they are more expensive. Just need to run fridge/freezer as i am away a lot.

    As it is off grid, do I need to register?
    Would it worthwhile Tieing it into the grid, is there still benefit – FIT etc.

  11. Hi We had panels installed a few years ago when the net metering scheme was about to be passed. Of course that didn’t work out. We have panels for hot water which work well and for electricity which are ineffective (we have two small batteries, which don’t work) we are also connected to the grid. We have been trying to work out what to do with our panels and were considering hooking them up to the grid to at least get some kind of feed in tariff – after reading this we are now concerned we will fall foul of the law and could be fined. Could anybody please tell me where I can find definitive information so that we can avoid fines and secondly ideally put our panels to good use. Thanks

  12. What is the current situation of the solar laws in Spain?
    Am I allowed to own solar panels?
    Am I allowed to look at them?
    Am I allowed to use them?
    Am I allowed to connect them to my pump in the well?
    Am I allowed to connect the inverter to the grid to only draw electricity from it if my solar panels and batteries do not supply enough electricity?

    I guess the electricity companies’ argument for all the ridiculous laws are that they state they have a supply obligation by law and that when all solar panel owners suddenly would stop using them they would not be able to meet this obligation. It’s the same as with banks and bank account holders: when all bank account holders would take out their money the bank would not be able to do this. But is it likely? NO.

    Anyway: I cannot find anything on the internet what the current situation is here in Spain / Mallorca.


    Location : Inca, Mallorca

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