Past, present and future of photovoltaic self-consumption in Spain: How has it evolved?


Photovoltaic energy has made its way in Spain thanks to self-consumption. According to data from the Spanish Photovoltaic Union (UNEF), 261.7 MW (megawatts) of new power were reached in 2018, 94% more than in 2017. The figure continues to rise and 90% of this increase comes from installations of photovoltaic.

What is photovoltaic self-consumption?

Photovoltaic self-consumption is nothing more than the use of solar panels for the production of own energy, used for heating, electricity, and domestic hot water. Its installation on the roofs of buildings or businesses responds to the concern of the Government and Spanish society to save and promote the consumption of clean and environmentally friendly energy sources.

The operation of self-consumption is simple. Solar panels transform the sun’s energy into electricity. Through the built-in batteries, it is possible to accumulate the surpluses generated during the day to be able to use them at night.

What has been the evolution of photovoltaic self-consumption in Spain?

The term self-consumption or sustainable energy may not have been frequently included in conversions more than a decade ago, but today it is frequently heard in the media or political debates.

Its inclusion began in 2011 with RD1699/2011. This Royal Decree included the regulation of the connection to the network of small power energy installations. In this way, the ban was opened the possibility that the user could self-consume their energy, which meant the entry of the first solar panels in homes.

The turning point occurred with the Popular Party’s approval of Royal Decree 900/2015, better known as the Sun Tax, which taxed the self-consumption of photovoltaic energy through panels. The former Minister of Industry, Energy and Tourism of the Government of Spain, José Manuel Soria, defended that this toll was a “boost for renewables”, while critics quickly claimed that it was a brake on the development of these energies.

Some consumers were exempt from paying this tax, provided that:

  • They did not have a contracted power greater than 10 kW
  • The self-consumption installation would have been carried out near Andalusia in the Canary Islands, Ceuta and Melilla.

In addition, Balearic consumers could also benefit from discounts when undertaking the installation.

On October 5, 2018, the celebration was heard loudly among the users of photovoltaic installations. The Council of Ministers approved a Royal Decree repealing this tax levied on self-consumers for the energy generated.

Thus, the industry has seen the light, even more, this year with the approval of shared self-consumption, so that an entire community of neighbors can benefit from the energy obtained if they install common solar panels.

The sector looks optimistically at the remainder of 2019, aware that the indices can only go up. Under this new scenario, the UNEF, as El País argues, plans to install “between 400 MW and 500 MW of annual self-consumption” in Spain.


What are the differences in self-consumption with the countries around us?

There is no doubt that the road to self-consumption in Spain is straighter than ever, but the reality is that the countries around us are miles away.

In the case of Portugal, in which the electricity market has many similarities with the Spanish model, in January 2015 it already approved a measure so that it was not necessary to carry out any procedure as long as the self-consumption installation did not exceed 1.5 kilowatts.

In France, an incentive was established for the installation of panels for photovoltaic self-consumption for five years. Those with less than 3 kW received an amount of 1,200 euros, 240 per year, and the largest, 2,000 euros (400 each year).

In our architectural studio in Murcia and Alicante, we advise you on the options that your home or building has to install panels that allow photovoltaic self-consumption.

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