Spain's government approves the “sun tax”

Spain’s center-right government has been perhaps the most hostile to the solar industry among European nations, including sweeping retroactive changes to the nation’s feed-in tariff which have been challenged in Spanish and European courts. Today Spain’s Council of Ministers hit a new low by approving fees on solar self-consumption, which have been dubbed the “sun tax”.

While full details will not be out until the full text is published in the Official Gazette, Spain’s Energy Ministry indicated (in Spanish) that there will be charges on both existing and new installations, both on a capacity and generation level. The ministry says that these are not taxes or compensation for utility losses, but contributions to overall system costs.

These new fees will begin to be levied in six month’s time. PV arrays under 10 kW and systems not on the Spanish mainland will be spared the generation charge, but will still be subject to a fixed charge per kW of capacity.

In opposition to the recommendation of the solar industry and the state council, these fees are levied not on the net balance, but on the total output of systems.

Additionally, PV systems up to 100 kW may not sell electricity, and will be required to donate this electricity to the grid free without compensation. Systems over 100 kW must registered in order to sell electricity on the spot market for the excess they produce.

According to Spanish news site Público, one of the few recommendations made by the State Council that was incorporated into the final text is that the use of batteries will not be banned. However, the use of batteries will not be allowed to lower the portion of the tax based on the capacity of PV systems.

Naturally, Spain’s PV industry is incensed by the move. The Association of Renewable Energy Producers (ANPIER) called the regulations a “perversion of Democracy”. The organization further described them as a “regulatory barrier” that penalizes citizens and small businesses for generating their own power and delays Spain’s move to an new energy model.

The Spanish Photovoltaic Union (UNEF) notes that the regulation does not account for the net balance, which it says discourages the development of self-consumption. UNEF President Jorge Barredo says that the “unjustified sun tax” means that self-consumption system users pay more charges for maintaining the grid than other users, even though they use less of it.

This article is based on an article in Spanish by Blanca Diaz Lopez on pv magazine Latin America site. It contains additional commentary and reporting by Christian Roselund.