Spain seeks to boost domestic solar production

Government unveils draft law to end "abusive" grid connection conditions for householders

The Spanish government has proposed new rules to make it easier for householders to export photovoltaic solar electricity to the national grid. The country currently has just one domestic grid connection despite a generous "feed-in" subsidy to small solar producers of ten times the retail price. Spanish prime minister Jose María Aznar described the draft law, released on Friday, as "a very important and possibly decisive step for boosting solar energy in [Spain]."

The bill seeks for the first time to standardise administrative and technical requirements for connecting panels of one kilowatt or below to the grid. With the new rules, said Mr Aznar, "the installation of solar panels will become more profitable".

Promoters of solar energy agree that the absence of a clear legal framework has been the main obstacle to domestic grid-connections. According to Greenpeace Spain, electricity distribution firms have blocked progress by imposing "abusive" conditions on householders. An example, says Spain's renewable energy producers association Appa, is a common requirement that householders fit grid protection systems, which can cost more than the solar panels themselves.

* In a separate development, the government's 2001 budget plan unveiled on Thursday contained no new fiscal measures for environmental protection. In particular there are to be no new energy or other environmental taxes, and road fuel duties are being frozen for the second year running following the fuel tax protests (ENDS Daily 18 September).

The increasing political and economic importance of water management is reflected in governmental spending plans. The environment ministry is to get a 4% increase, with 83% of the total earmarked for hydrological infrastructure projects and water quality. Regional water management boards will see their budgets jump by 44%.

Follow Up:
Spanish government; Spanish finance ministry, tel: +34 91 595 8000, and details of the 2001 draft budget; Greenpeace Spain, tel: +34 91 444 1400; Appa tel: +34 91 414 2277.

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