Power firms "hold back" Spanish solar sector

Solar power industry association accuses electricity firms of slowing photovoltaic installation

Foot-dragging by Spain's electricity supply companies, as well as bureaucratic delays, are frustrating the government's oft-repeated objective of boosting domestic solar electricity production, according to the Spanish solar power industry association (ASIF).

Spanish electricity suppliers are obliged to pay generous premiums on electricity fed in from renewable sources under a 1999 law. Nevertheless, only 34 photovoltaic producers have achieved grid connection, ASIF complains. And this is despite a further government initiative last September to remove bureaucratic obstacles (ENDS Daily 2 October 2000).

ASIF president, Ignacio Rosales, told ENDS Daily that, while unpreparedness by local government officials was partly to blame, "some electricity companies have actively been trying to discourage connections by small solar producers". According to Mr Rosales, companies can demand up to euros 900 (SPta150,000) for "technical analysis" or simply don't respond to requests for connection.

Given Spain's high solar potential and premiums of up to euros 0.39 per kilowatt hour, the government's Institute for Energy Saving and Diversification has set a target of increasing national photovoltaic generating capacity from the current 9 megawatts (MW) to 144 MW by 2010. At current rates this objective would take 100 years to reach.

In a related development, Spanish renewable energy producers' association APPA has released figures showing a 30% rise in renewables production in 2000, similar to 1999 performance (ENDS Daily 15 May 2000). Nevertheless, as in 1999, the market share of renewables - at 4.3% - rose virtually not at all due to growing overall demand.

The European Commission recently warned that similar energy demand growth across the Europe is putting at risk the EU's target of a 12% renewable energy share by 2010 (ENDS Daily 20 February).

Follow Up:
ASIF, tel: +34 91 590 0300; APPA, tel: +34 93 414 2277.

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