Sunenergy System

Spain as Europe's First Photovoltaic Powerhouse

The European Commission wants photovoltaic solar energy to be the main source of energy in Europe by 2030.

Spain is currently the third largest photovoltaic power in Europe, behind Germany and Italy, but could play a key role in helping the EU achieve its goal.

With abundant sun hours and extensive hectares of non-productive land for wind farms, Spain could become an energy supplier to other EU countries. However, inadequate planning and government coordination could prevent private investment and cause Spain to miss this historic progress opportunity.

The lack of efficiency in planning and bureaucratic agility hinders the development of the country’s solar potential.

The National Energy and Climate Plan (NECPs) sets the goal of having 39,200 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic energy in 2030. Currently there are 13,500 MW in operation, but there are 101,000 MW that have been granted permits, three times more than what was planned. Only 0.25% of the agricultural land in Spain would be required to build these facilities.

However, the advancement of photovoltaic energy is limited by different obstacles such as bureaucratic procedures, political tensions and environmental groups that protect the landscape. To overcome these challenges, proper planning and simplification of permits and administrative procedures is required, as demanded by the European Commission and as has been done in France.

The EU strategy also highlights the role that citizens should play by installing self-consumption solar systems wherever possible, to encourage active participation in the market and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. In Spain, the installation of solar panels for self-consumption has increased 101.84% in a few years and represents 30% of all new photovoltaic power installed in the country.

The increase in solar energy self-consumption in Spain was 101.84% in 2021 and represented 30% of the new photovoltaic capacity installed in the country.

However, there are pending legal changes to consolidate this process. One of them is to expand the possibility of sharing energy surpluses beyond the current 500 meters. The government is evaluating expanding it to 2 kilometers or even 20 in rural areas to encourage the creation of energy communities and multiply self-consumption.

Additionally, there are difficulties in connecting the electricity grid to the energy produced by industrial photovoltaic solar plants for self-consumption, with 40% of small and 46% of large installations not connected to the grid.

Despite having enough sun hours, land, and national leading photovoltaic technology companies, a political will and administrative agility is needed to tap into the country’s solar potential.