Goodbye to the sun tax

Interesting article from Ariadna Trillas published on the 16.7. in the “el”

Goodbye to the sun tax

Citizenship, neighborhood communities, cooperatives, companies and institutions who want to produce their own energy to consume it, store it or sell the overload by pouring it into the distribution network with the support of the Union European. Their right to do so has been shielded, which means a first step in the revolution towards an economy based on renewable energies such as solar and wind.

And there is an important novelty that directly affects Spain:

When exercising this right, there may be no surcharges in between, at least until the year 2026, regardless of the power that is installed. An agreement between the three pillars of the EU – the EU Parliament, which has played a key role in favor of renewable energies, the Commission and the Council-placed in mid-June in the spotlight the so-called sun tax in force in Spain for installations with more than 10 kW of power and that satisfied the electric ones.

But we will not have to wait for the maximum time that exists until the entry into force of the new renewable energy directive (until 2021). The European Pact on the new directive has practically coincided in time with the change of Government in Spain. The PSOE is contrary to surcharges on electric self-consumption and is in favor of shared self-consumption. It has coincided, in addition, in the time with the reissue of the front against the sun tax in the Congress of the Deputies, which brings together all the groups of the opposition until recently (all less the Popular Party, Citizens and Asturias Forum), which, unlike happened last year, this time they have enough votes to promote a type of renewable energy generation that helps reduce the costs of produce energy and also reduce its environmental impact. As well Cuidadanos, which at the time was positioned with the PP against the initiative, has presented now his, favorable to the distributed generation.

Both the text of the proposals of law and the documents of the Advisory Council for the Ecological Transition of the Economy (CAPTE) of the PSOE see in self-consumption the way to involve the population in the energy transition towards a decarbonised economy necessary to combat climate change.

The photovoltaic sector, environmental NGOs such as Greenpeace and Ecologists in Action and the social entities that have been fighting against the Sun tax are satisfied with this new favorable framework. The cooperatives of renewable energies gathered in have celebrated “the recognition of empowerment of citizens in European energy policy “.

“The most important thing about the directive is that it establishes the right of citizens to consume and store their own energy or self-generated energy and receive retribution for their surplus, both individually and collectively “, says José Donoso, general director of the Spanish Photovoltaic Union (UNEF). For the industry, “the impact of this change is positive, reactivates the sector and supposes the realization of new photovoltaic projects “. No backup toll and one streamlining of procedures, UNEF foresees the installation of around 300 MW of self-consumption per year in Spain. According to his calculations, this installation could help prevent the emission of more than three million tons of CO2 to the atmosphere.

Possible review

As of 2026, European countries will be able to reassess what to do with the surcharges, but the conditions for them to do so are demanding: the review can only be done if it can be demonstrated with a cost-benefit analysis the negative impact of the exemption from tolls on the electrical system, and if, in addition, self-consumption reaches 8% of the market -now just over 1 %-. This possible revision may not also affect self-consumption facilities of a power lower than 25 kW, which will be exempt from tolls.

In Spain, put some solar panels in a house and consume the energy generated was legal and there was no tax to pay. So for houses and small farms isolated that have light thanks to the solar energy of their plates will not change great thing, except for the tranquility that what they do has institutional support and political. The power that a normal home needs does not reach more than 3 or 4 kW. Until now it was also possible to have the usual electricity supply and, in addition, install solar panels, as long as the installation does not dump energy into the electric network.

The sun tax in Spain came into play, at least on paper, in installations with power from 10 kW, although sources in the sector indicate that small producers have hardly been applied, and that they were going to for powers of more than 100 kW, for large installations.

The last norm that has regulated the issue until now is the year 2015 and distinguished two modes of self-consumption: the first, in which the installation does not connect to the distribution network, so it does not market the energy generated and the second, the one in which the surplus energy – if generated more than what is consumed- it goes to the network. In this last case, it is necessary to enroll in a registry as an electricity producer and if they have more than 10kW of power, they had to pay two access tolls. Raquel Paule, responsible for Projects of the Renovables Foundation, explains that the first toll is a fixed charge that is applied to the batteries in which the energy used to maintain the network, and the second charge, called transient, it is applied to the energy generated and the amount varies depending on precisely this.

Lower costs

The idea that these charges made investments in solar energy unviable for own consumption has permeated public opinion. As often happens with technology, costs become cheaper over time. “The price drop has been such that the facilities are viable even with the charges, although the repayment term of the investment is extended for a while, “explains Paule. The Fundación Renovables has been demanding the repeal of the Royal Decree of 2015 and trusts that distributed generation reaches 10% of the coverage of the electricity demand in Spain in the year 2030.

According to the report on the situation of self-consumption in Spain, published in March, the costs of solar installation have been reduced by 76% during the period which goes from 2010 to January to 2017. Last year, the average investment of the facility made in residential customers is 4,000 euros and the average amortization, 7.5 years old. According to the calculations of SotySolar, the average savings of an installation of self-consumption ends up being 34%.

The European Consumer Organization BEUC notes: “The costs of installation can still be quite high for part of the population, but the renewable energies compensate [the investment] in the long term “.

On the other hand, the miniproducers have been dealing with paperwork long and laborious administrative, and with changing prices. “Besides the immorality, the problem has been here, in the administrative procedures, and in the fact that, as the charges appear in the transitory provision of the real decree, the tolls can be changing and this does not give security “, adds Raquel Paule.

The judges have been rejecting appeals against tolls, except in the case of Constitutional Court (TC). Last summer, the TC dropped the article that prohibited shared self-consumption – solar panels in a community of neighbors who want to share them-, a prohibition that the Catalan Government for reasons of competence. The ruling helped change criterion of Citizens. The European directive, on the other hand, allows the shared self-consumption, although it leaves its concretion in the hands of the Member States members.

The previous Government of the PP justified the regulation for economic reasons: would imply a reduction in the collection of 162 million euros in taxes and an additional 10 million dollars to compensate for the deficit that the consequent reduction of tolls.




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