Spanish fines for self-consumption double that for leaking radioactive waste

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A proposed “sun tax” on use of batteries for residential self-consumption of solar energy in Spain could increase payback time from around 16 years to 31 years under a new draft Law put forward by the Spanish Government. Hefty fines for infringement, capped at €60 million (US$67.7 million), have also been proposed

The tax would also increase payback time for SMEs using self-consumption from four to seven years.

Under the proposals, only owners of off-grid PV systems will be allowed to install a battery without paying this new tax.

The tax applies to grid-connected solar PV installations of up to 15kW. Depending on the size of the installation, the fee will be between €8.9 (US$10) per kW for domestic consumers up to €36 (US$40.6) per kW for medium size businesses.

The Spanish PV association, Union Espanola Foltovoltaico (UNEF), told PV Tech that this would be the only self-consumption law in the world created only to prohibit the development of self-consumption.

The new law puts a cap on installations at 100kW and the owner and consumer must be the same person.

UNEF said that this is a “retroactive law”, because projects already approved will become illegal if they do not fit within these new parameters. Furthermore projects not fitting within the new rulings will be considered a “very serious” infringement with a fine up to €60 million (US$67.7 million), which is double the fine for releasing nuclear waste (see table).

UNEF also called the new tax “discriminatory” as no other energy efficiency measure has to pay this tax. Cogeneration is free of the tax until 2020. Meanwhile, nuclear, coal and gas, which self-consume at least 8% of their energy, are not subject to the tax at all.

UNEF calculated that if the government applied the same “sun tax” to traditional energy plants, it could gain €230 million (US$259.5 million), or by applying it to cogeneration, €100 million (US$112.8 million).

There are only 100MW of PV self-consumption installed in Spain currently, yet even if 200MW were installed, the Government would only generate €6 million (US$6.8 million) from the tax.

José Donoso, UNEF General Director told PV Tech there are less than two weeks to make claims against the new draft laws, before being taken to the State council to be approved.

He said: “In general terms all the policies of the Spanish government in the last four years are anti-renewables.”

He added that there is an ideological campaign against solar and a lobby from the utilities, which have a dominant position in the market.

He said the new laws would have a very negative impact on the solar industry in Spain on top of the moratorium against new utility-scale PV in the last three years and strong anti-self-consumption rhetoric from the Government in the last two years.

Last year in Spain, only 22MW of PV were installed in the Spanish market and Donoso expects the same in 2015 – adding: “If we are lucky”.

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