Spain's Constitutional Tribunal gives a bitter Christmas gift to solar producers

Spain’s Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism (Minetur) has presented a bitter Christmas gift to solar producers. Minetur has issued a press release stating that the Constitutional Tribunal (TC) has rejected an constitutional appeal presented by the Region of Murcia regarding the removal of the feed-in tariff for solar PV in Royal Decree 9/2013.

The press release whereby TC is reported to endorse the new compensation framework for solar and other renewables is an immediate response to doubts raised by the Supreme Tribunal regarding the constitutionality of removing the feed-in tariff and the uncertainty generated during the period which elapsed before the articulation of the new compensation system.

During the period of appeal, the Supreme Tribunal planned to send the case to the Constitutional Tribunal for its evaluation. According to the press release by Minetur, TC “thus validates the principles of the new compensation framework for renewable energy, which has been developed by the government as part of its electricity reform.”

However, the ministry headed by José Manuel Soria did not give details regarding the ruling, which also has not been made public by the TC or the Region of Murcia. According to Spanish daily El País, sources at the TC have noted that this is a judgment from last week which has still not been reported and which contains a particular vote.

Minetur also indicates in its press release that the ruling “will present criteria for future appeals in this scope, thereby endorsing the electricity reform undertaken by the government during this term”.

More than 500 appeals of the regulations which retroactively modified the compensation program for renewables are currently being decided by the Supreme Tribunal. By setting a precedent, the ruling of the TC as reported by Minetur could end the hopes of Spanish PV system owners, who were confident that the highest legal authority in Spain would return legal certainty to their investments.

PV and renewable energy associations have presented their opposition to the passage of the aforementioned regulations, and have argued that “reasonable compensation” which replaced the previous feed-in tariff represents a cut up to 50% to compensation levels promised by the Spanish state, which will bankrupt many small energy producers and businesses.

Translation by Christian Roselund. For the original article in Spanish, please see the pv magazine Latinoamérica website.