Photovoltaic energy in Spain grows after 94% increase in installed power in 2018

  • In 2018, installed capacity reached 261.7 MW, mainly due to the increase in self-consumption facilities, which account for 90% of the total.
  • However, the figure represents only 3% of the new installed capacity in Europe, which has reached a total of 8.5 GW.
  • UNEF values positively the effect of RDL 15/2018, which establishes a free market system for self-consumption, eliminating economic and administrative barriers to self-consumed energy.
  • UNEF values the recent draft of the law on self-consumption in a positive way. It provides clarity and transparency and shows a clear willingness from the Government to promote self-consumption. However UNEF expects that some aspects will be improved in the period of allegations in order to eliminate legal gaps that are hindering certain procedures.


Madrid, February 4th, 2019. According to the data registered by UNEF, 261.7 MW of new photovoltaic power were installed in Spain last year, which represents a 94% increase in comparison to the 135 MW installed in 2017, as well as an important growth compared to the 55 MW registered in 2016 and the 49 MW of 2015.

90% of these 261.7 MW (235.7 MW) correspond to self-consumption energy, 25% of which is related to self-consumption connected to the grid for agricultural use and 26 MW to solar photovoltaic plants on land.

Despite this growth, the number of new facilities in Spain represents only 3% of all the new installed capacity in Europe in 2018, estimated at 8.5 GW, with Germany and the Netherlands ahead.

The main reasons for this growth are, on the one hand, the increasing trend of the sector, given the reduction of production costs of up to 80% in the past 10 years, and the influence of self-consumption on companies’ competitiveness -energy savings and financial optimization of energy efficiency.

On the other hand, this growth is also due to the introduction of the European Directive on Renewable Energies, which brings security and stability to the regulatory framework; to the elimination of tolls for self-consumed energy and, finally, to the support of the CCAA to renewable generation through self-consumption subsidies, both industrial and residential.


Self-consumption law draft: positive progress

Regarding the recent draft of the self-consumption law, which is in the comments period, it represents a positive advance for the development of self-consumption energy, as it clarifies regulatory aspects and solves the stoppages in the procedures by some distributors.

The highlights of the draft include collective self-consumption as a type of self-consumption, specially necessary in a society where vertical housing predominates. This point establishes and fixes the different roles of those participating in the installation, defining parameters related to self-consumption collective hours that will be set under agreement. It also clarifies information related to the treatment of surpluses, where facilities with this capacity will be eligible for compensation through net invoicing.

Accordingly, self-consumption facilities with surpluses may opt for a simplified compensation, which will be made in economic terms of consumed energy, between consumption deficits and surplus energy produced in a month, and which is defined as net turnover and not as a net balance. In the net balance, the surpluses are valued at the price that the consumer pays for the energy received from the network and in the net turnover, the surplus energy is valued at the market price as any other energy producer.

In conclusion, the photovoltaic sector considers that some aspects of the Self-Consumption draft law can be improved and, therefore, will present allegations. Also, it is important that this document and the Royal Decree on Access and Connection go together, putting an end to the regulatory gaps that could hinder the correct progress and growth of a clean and cheap technology, necessary to enable lower the costs of electricity and help fight climate change.

The most important allegations that the sector will make to the Self-consumption draft are:

  1. In joint access contracts for consumption and services, we request to provide this possibility even if the producer and consumer are not the same natural or legal person.
  2. Regarding the simplified compensation of surpluses, it is considered that it should specify more clearly the financial compensation, in addition to specifying that it does not involve an economic activity to be declared for tax purposes.
  3. Finally, in collective self-consumption, the self-consumption of collective hours and the hourly discharge are maintained according to the allegations made by the Alliance for Self-Consumption to the Access and Connection RDL.


Data of new installed power worldwide

The installation of new power worldwide has reached 98 GW, with 44 GW corresponding to China. In addition, the US, Japan and India together reach 26 GW. Global growth is maintained at a steady rate compared to the previous year, where 100 GW of new power was reached. This shows a clear commitment to photovoltaic development that increasingly occupies a greater share of the energy mix. All of this in a context where renewable energy aims to become the only source of electricity within a period of 25 to 30 years.


About UNEF

The Spanish Photovoltaic Union (UNEF) is the sectorial association of photovoltaic solar energy in Spain. Formed by more than 320 companies, entities and groups of the sector, it represents more than 85% of the activity of the sector in Spain and brings together almost all: producers, installers, engineers, raw material manufacturers , modules and components, distributors and consultants. UNEF also holds the presidency and co-secretariat of FOTOPLAT, the Spanish technological photovoltaic platform. The platform brings together universities, research centers and leading companies of photovoltaic R+D in Spain.


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