Exclusive interview: Cuts in Spanish PV applications would signal "the end"

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Javier Anta has led the negotiations with the Spanish industry ministry and had to confront the public with a bitter message: the Spanish government appears determined to carry out its drastic and retroactive cuts. In an interview with pv magazine, the head of the association explained the situation.

Does the Spanish government really want to carry out a retroactive cut to the remuneration rates for photovoltaic applications?

Yesterday the undersecretary of state for energy matters at the industry ministry confirmed that plans are to cut the remuneration for existing plants by thirty percent and that in the future – probably starting in October – there will be a forty-five percent reduction for outdoor installations, twenty-five percent for large specialized plants and five percent for small plants. Or to put it in plain language: The government is moving away from its support for photovoltaics energy and is thus sending a pathetic signal to other countries that are counting on solar energy.

How can the government do such a thing? Isn’t a wave of complaints to be expected?

The government wants to lower energy costs in Spain in order to strengthen the competitiveness of the country, and so it decided that a major portion of the corresponding savings should come from the remuneration fund for renewable energies. In order to forestall complaints, the number of hours for which our plants are entitled to the officially stipulated remuneration will now be limited, while the remaining quantities will be remunerated based only on the price determined by the free electricity market. The courts will decide whether this is legal or not. But in any case, introduction of this thirty percent reduction for photovoltaics applications would mean the end of us.

Your demise?

Without a doubt. Nobody will invest in photovoltaics anymore. No one will trust the lawmakers in this country anymore if the government goes through with such a turnabout in its concepts. And besides, such a brutal cut would mean that current plant owners would be ruined. In the end the banks would be stuck with these plants as if they were housing mortgages without any margin for negotiations. This means the end of the Spanish photovoltaics market. When it comes to our own companies, in which approximately 20,000 people are directly employed, only those would survive that operate abroad.

What does this mean in terms of money?

In the past, approximately €22 billion were invested – which resulted in a total plant output of approximately 3,500 megawatts. These plants ultimately generate €2.6 billion in costs for electricity customers. The government cut would lower these costs by €700 million. But the problem here is not the money, but rather the enormous loss in confidence.

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