UNEF releases a study on the economic, social and environmental impact of the Spanish PV industry

The Spanish PV Association (UNEF) has released the main conclusions of its macro-economic report on the national PV industry, in which the direct, indirect and induced activity of the sector is analyzed from three dimensions of sustainability: the economic, social and environmental ones. The study is included in the association’s Annual Report 2019.

From an economic perspective, the study shows the positive impact that the Spanish PV sector has on the national economy: it accounted for a direct contribution to the national GDP of 2,357 million euros in 2017 and 2,711 million euros in 2018. This was a direct contribution to the Spanish GDP of 0.20% in 2017 and of 0.22% in 2018.

The report also highlights that the export activity is one of the strongest elements of the PV sector in Spain: in 2017 it achieved a surplus of 557 million euros, that reached 800 million euros in 2018.

In terms of R&D, the investments increased by 37% in 2018 compared to the previous year, reaching 79.2 million euros, showing a ratio of R&D with respect to the total sales that is higher than the average of the Spanish economy.

According to the report, the Spanish PV sector has a positive impact also from a social point of view, as it contributes to creating job opportunities. With this respect, on a national level, the sector's employment footprint reached 24,526 workers in 2017, a figure that increased to 29,306 in 2018. The study also shows that the employment generated in the PV industry has standards of quality and stability that are much higher than the average of the Spanish economy, as it employs graduates or technicians specialized in conditions of contractual stability. 

From an environmental perspective, PV technology produces clean energy, therefore the only environmental footprint produced by the industry is related to the emissions generated along the production chain of the different activities developed. This environmental footprint reached 1,138.4 ktCO2 in 2017 and 1,406.3 ktCO2 in 2018. From UNEF, we have developed a document that defines a series of recommendations to further reduce the impact of PV plants according to three areas: the impact of the PV plant, the impact on the local environment and the global impact. The document can be downloaded here (Spanish version)

To conclude, the study confirms that the development of the Spanish PV sector represents a great opportunity for the Spanish economy. The economic activity of the sector creates significant national income flows that are accompanied by the intensive generation of stable and quality green employment while allowing the objectives of decarbonization of the electricity sector to be met.

Download the executive summary of the Annual Report 2019 (English version)
Download the full Annual Report 2019