Spanish government under fire after approving ‘sun tax’

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Spain’s energy ministry has approved a new regulation for self-consumption, which has been branded as a deliberate attempt to avoid the development of PV and self-consumption within Spain, by the country’s solar association.

The Spanish government put forward three sets of proposals over the summer period, which included a core punitive measure against solar self-consumption – the ‘sun tax’ on energy produced and consumed without feeding the grid.

José Donoso, general director of Union Espanola Fotovoltaica (UNEF), told PV Tech: “We think it’s a big mistake from our government. They wanted to close the road to the new distributed [generation] model in Spain and we hope it will be a law with a short life, as we have new elections in two months. Now our hopes are with political change.”

Donoso added that all the political parties in opposition to the incumbent government signed a letter last July confirming that if they were to win a majority in the December elections, they will revoke the new ‘sun tax’.

Whilst the government has approved the core aspects of the original proposals, Donoso said that the law now also blocks groups of households from sharing PV installations or having a “common” PV system.

In August the Spanish government put forward its third set of proposals for taxes on solar self-consumption, which made a provision for the use of batteries, which was forbidden in the previous proposals. However it maintained the main punitive measures including a disproportionately bureaucratic authorisation procedure.

At the time, Daniel Pérez, attorney at Holtrop S.L.P, told PV Tech: “This is a tax for electricity produced by consumers, so for us the concept is already wrong. They are not using the grid so they shouldn’t pay for producing. [The Government has] made some improvements for users but not in the core areas of the legislation.”

In June PV Tech reported that the fee will range between €8.9 (US$10) per kW for domestic consumers up to €36 per kW for medium size businesses.

The new law was approved on 9 October and published in the official gazette on 10 October.

Spain’s energy ministry described the law as “a framework for the orderly development of consumption, ensuring the safety of the electrical system is established at all times”.

The ministry even listed the advantages of self-consumption including the penetration of clean energy technologies and reducing losses associated with having to transport electricity through the distributed generation model. It still decided to approve the new law despite the second set of proposals in July sparking a record 180,000 petition signatures in less than a week in oppostion to the announcements.

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