The PV sector has undergone a tremendous evolution in Spain over the past few years. The positive development of PV in Spain can be traced back to two technology-neutral renewable auctions held in 2017, which aimed to comply with 2020 targets; PV energy was awarded 3.9 GW (AC). The most recent data (as of 30 September 2019) shows that 1.5 GW (AC) of PV have already been commissioned.
First, the change of the Spanish government in 2018 caused a renewed institutional vision of climate change, putting the energy transition firmly on the political agenda.
In February 2019, the newly-named ‘Ministry for the Ecologic Transition’ published the Energy and Climate Framework, including the draft National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP), that was judged by the European Commission as one of the most ambitious of all EU member states.
In September 2019, the Parliament approved a Climate Emergency Declaration, that shows the consensus in Spanish society on the need to tackle climate change with real and determined measures. The country lacks, however, a Climate Change Act, which is expected for 2020, once the new Government is formed after the general elections of November 2019.
According to the target scenario of the draft NECP, the level of renewables in Spain will reach 74% in the electricity sector and 42% in final energy consumption by 2030. The growth of renewables will be mostly based on a significant increase in the installed power of PV that is targeted to reach 37 GW (AC) in 2030, this means around 3 GW (AC) of new PV capacity installed each year (Figure 1).
The main challenges that could slow down PV deployment: financing, network injection capacity, and administrative procedures. Regarding financing, the economic competitiveness of PV allows the technology to achieve very low levelized energy costs and thus to obtain financing by other means than auctions.
Finally, the positive prospects for the Spanish PV sector also extend to self-consumption, as two recently-approved bills (Royal Decree-Law 15/2018 and Royal Decree 244/2019) entail a radical change with respect to previous regulations. The current regulatory framework is based on the principles of the Renewable Energy Directive, including the right to self-consumption without charges, administrative simplification, and remuneration of excesses.
With this regulation plus an electricity tariff that sends the appropriate economic signals to consumers, the installation of 300 MW to 400 MW of PV self-consumption per year can be expected in Spain. If the fixed component of the tariff, which is the highest in Europe for household consumers, is reduced then these figures could be even higher.