The State of Renewable Energy Development in the Region: The Role of Small Producers and Economic Benefits.

What is the current situation of the development of renewable energies in the Region?

Our territory is ideal for the production of renewable energy, especially photovoltaic, few places in the world enjoy a sun and a sky that allows us to have our 3,000 hours of sunshine per year. In addition, we have excellent distribution and transport infrastructures in our country. This translates into a large penetration of industrial and residential self-consumption facilities, on the one hand, and, on the other, in the proliferation of large production parks for sale through the network.

Are small producers still the guarantors of the development of photovoltaic solar production today?

Unfortunatelly no. Small producers have been expelled from the electricity market, and that is a tragedy. To the pioneers with abusive retroactive cuts and to the new projects with insurmountable barriers to access and connection, an obscurantism allowed by the central Administration. The electricity generation business is wanted by the large operators and those who manage us have not encouraged SMEs to participate in the solar wealth of this country; a missed opportunity for the wealth of our region to benefit those who inhabit these lands.

In what situation is the national electrical system?

The large operators have kept 90% of the new installed renewable power; If in 2007 65,000 producers entered for 4,000 photovoltaic MW, now just over 50 have emerged for 15,000 MW of photovoltaic solar energy. Wind power, as we all know, nothing is socialized due to the nature of the projects, inaccessible due to costs to small initiatives.

What are the social and economic benefits of small producers?

It is easy to imagine all the money that we Spaniards pay on our electricity bill, or perhaps it is difficult. In addition, by 2050 all consumption must be renewable and, therefore, the vast majority of it will be electric, which would multiply the current electricity demand by four. That economic volume can go to a greater or lesser extent to a few or to a many and its consequences are very different. If it is distributed among many small producers, we are generating income in the territory, which is then reinvested or spent in the regions themselves, and that is good for all of us in the Region; If the owners of the electricity generation groups are few and very large, who usually do not have their tax domicile in the territory and many times not even in our country, then wealth escapes us. It really is absurd that others take advantage of our potential, but it is what is happening.

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Tell us about the report ‘Economic and social contribution of small photovoltaic installations in Spain’, carried out by PwC Spain for Anpier.

It is a deep and rigorous report in which conclusions are reached that are often not intuitive and, therefore, are not appreciated; but that reveal the importance of the group of 65,000 Spanish families in the maturation process of photovoltaic technology, which now allows us the ecological transition. The study reveals that small photovoltaic plants – less than or equal to 100 kW – contributed almost 2,200 million euros to the national GDP during 2021, which also allowed them to maintain around 20,000 jobs. These facilities are distributed throughout the national territory, concentrating almost half of the installed power they represent, in municipalities of the ‘Demographic Challenge’, characterized by an agrarian economy.

Tell us about figures… What photovoltaic power do we currently have in our country?

In 2007-2012, 4,500 photovoltaic MW were installed, on the 12th an incomprehensible moratorium began that did not allow more power, something that we gradually released in 2018, given that the projects take 3-4 years to materialize, it is now, in the last two years, when a massive entry is taking place, we are now at 20,000 MW of photovoltaic, a figure that will double in a few years.

And this evolution in terms of economic cost?

The small photovoltaic producers, the 65,000 families, made a great gift to society by maturing a technology that allows us to produce energy at a very low cost and without polluting; a generation source that can also be adapted to any need and size, from small residential self-consumption to a large plant of hundreds of MW for supply through the general grid. In ten years we have managed to reduce generation costs from almost €400/MWh to less than €40/MWh. This miracle would never have happened without the pioneering families. A gift that is not only extraordinary for the present and the future and that allows us to decarbonize the planet, but since its inception the price of energy in the wholesale market and, therefore, for the consumer, has been reduced to a magnitude that exceeds the cost of supports that these technologies have required.

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In what position are renewable energies in Spain?

We are at the forefront, both because of the optimal characteristics of wind, photovoltaic and thermosolar generation that we have and of which we have spoken, and because of the industry that, in these same areas, we have developed and that drive us internationally as a technological benchmark in renewable matter. In terms of installed capacity, we are rising to the top positions in Europe, leaving behind the years of stagnation, recovering lost ground and with a very good perspective of meeting, or even exceeding, what is planned for the year 2030 and 2050. What it owes us worrying is that our electricity consumption does not increase; but they remain stable, so we can find ourselves with an installed overcapacity and that is not positive, it is necessary to harmonize the penetration of renewable energy with the expected consumption, since there is no possibility of selling surpluses in Europe because our interconnection is very weak.

Are small photovoltaic plants generating jobs?

Both in the project and installation phases, and later in its operation and maintenance, photovoltaic installations generate jobs; but the bulk occurs in the installation phase. Given that we are in an expansive installation phase, we are witnessing a very important job creation scenario throughout the chain, and we have a lack of profiles both in the projection phase, engineers, and in the installation phase, more technical profiles . Later will come the phase in which the weight will remain in operation and maintenance, which generates much less employment. In any case, a small plant, less than 5 MW, offers greater employability, by scale, than larger ones.

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To what extent does the production of these plants contribute to the decarbonization of the electrical system?

Absolutely, these facilities do not generate emissions in the production of energy, neither wind, nor hydraulic, nor solar thermal. Renewables do not generate emissions and as renewable MW displace fossils, emissions will drop to close to zero, with the exception of consumption that cannot be energized with electricity. The goal of zero emissions by 2050 can be achieved, thanks to renewables and with photovoltaics as the protagonist.

How do renewable energies contribute to lower electricity rates?

In a radical way, for years renewables have lowered our electric energy bill, since our pricing system is marked by the price set by the latest technology that enters to satisfy the hourly demand and if the bulk is satisfied with renewables. , the more difficult it will be for a technology that will make said hourly cost more expensive. This year we are witnessing hours of energy at zero euros, in daylight hours, where photovoltaic is complemented by wind.

What do you think will be the natural evolution of the development of renewable energies?

The panels will be more efficient every day and, in addition, they will take up less space; in the field of photovoltaic self-consumption, they will gradually be integrated into the structures of buildings and infrastructure surfaces, as coatings. 65,000 families began a journey and, although much progress has been made, there is still an exciting journey ahead until 2050.

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