Spain: PV parks to be investigated for fraud

Under the decree, around 800 megawatts of installed outdoor photovoltaics (PV) plants suspected of having swindled the high remuneration (46.5 cents per kilowatt hour) of the feed-in tariff (FIT) specified in the Real Decreto (RD) 661/2007 prior to September 28, 2008, will be examined. Consequently, over a quarter of installed outdoor plants will be the subject of future investigations.

The royal decree has assigned the National Energy Commission with the task of approaching the respective plant operators within 45 days. The inspection will include customs documents, time-dated invoices with series data on the purchase of modules, inverters and other system components, in addition to other documents that prove the plants functioned properly at the time of final registration.

Anyone who is able to present an official permit by the deadline, however, should not be “deluded” into thinking they are out of the line of fire: only proper functioning is what counts – which is why invoices regarding the initial feed-in quantities are also being requested for the period concerned.

Anyone who is guilty of irregularities will have to pay back any remuneration received since September 2008 – along with interest – and will only be allowed to sell electricity at the market price, which is currently 3.6 euro cents in Spain. If the plant operator wants to return to the remuneration system, he must take a seat at the back of the award placement rounds and wait up to three years for a new feed-in permit. Additionally, these plants will be entered into a special public register.

The consequences for those who voluntarily indicate doubts or irregularities are somewhat less serious. In this case, their tariff seamlessly changes into the then valid tariff of 32 euro cents as specified in RD 1578/2008.

The decree is being supported by Spanish solar federations and the regional offices of the Ministry of Industry.