Spain’s proposed ‘sun tax’ revision still punitive, says specialist lawyer

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The Spanish government has put forward a third set of proposals for the Royal Decree on taxes for solar self-consumption, which improves on the previous proposals but maintains the core punitive measures, according to a lawyer specialising in trade issues in Spain.

The government has put forward Royal Decree proposals revising renewable energy policy, including rules directly affecting the self-consumption of electricity generated by household PV systems, in July 2013, June 2015 and again this month.

The controversial second set of proposals last June put forward a 'sun tax' on use of batteries for residential self-consumption of solar energy, which could increase payback time from around 16 years to 31 years. These measures also caused outrage when it was revealed that projects not fitting within the new rulings would be considered a “very serious” infringement with a fine of up to €60 million (US$67.7 million), which is double the fine for releasing nuclear waste. It took less than a week for more than 180,000 Spanish citizens to sign a petition against the new 'sun tax' plans.

Daniel Pérez, attorney at Holtrop S.L.P, told PV Tech that the latest proposals made several improvements, such as making self-consumption compatible with last-resource tariffs, which are discounted tariffs for low income consumers.

There is also now a provision for the use of batteries, which was forbidden in the previous proposals.

Nevertheless, Pérez said the core punitive measures of the Royal Decree had been maintained:

  • A disproportionately bureaucratic authorisation procedure
  • A tax on energy produced and consumed without feeding the grid

He said it is also unclear whether net-metering will be allowed. Consumers will have to ask for a connection point to the grid even if they have no plan to feed electricity into the grid.

Furthermore the latest proposals fail to alleviate a tax issue, which has now been divided into two parts: a fixed tax, paid by all consumers, and a variable tax exempting installations under 10 kW and some island installations, Pérez said.

Pérez added: “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 general terms the Royal Decrees are still very negative, because they are much worse than the situation we have now.”

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