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Spanish PV industry seeks fair tariff

03 Sep 2008

With Spain's photovoltaic market growing so strongly, changes to the feed-in tariff are causing concern among the industry.

“The new regulations should be the opportunity to send the right message.”

The importance of a feed-in tariff, by which utility companies are obliged to buy surplus electricity generated from photovoltaic (PV) installations at a preferential rate, has been crucial in the rapid take-up of PV in certain countries. The subject featured in our blog from Photon 08, where representatives of the UK industry were firm in their view that such an incentive scheme must be introduced in Britain sooner rather than later, to encourage the adoption of the technology.

But the precise level of the tariff can be a contentious issue. In Spain, where the dramatic rise in PV installations of more than 400% has been squarely attributed to the tariff, the current regulations governing remuneration of grid-connected systems will come to an end in September and the government has been working on a new set of regulations.

The proposal currently on the table would set a market cap of 300 MW for new PV installations next year, segmenting it into 200 MW for roof-top systems and 100 MW for ground-mounted installations. It would also introduce a new level of tariff.

This has alarmed the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA), which believes that the suggested tariffs are a reaction to the unprecedented pace of growth in the industry, and that the market caps are too low to effectively encourage market development.

"The market explosion that has taken place this year has exceeded all expectations, but the new regulations must allow a sustainable long-term development of the market," commented Ernesto Macias of EPIA.

EPIA favours a plan from ASIF and APPA, the Spanish PV and renewable energy associations, which proposes that new PV installations should provide a minimum of 600 MW per year, divided between 480 MW for new installations and 120 MW to cater for those in construction. Even these targets represent a drastic reduction in the pace of current activity: 1,000 MW will have been installed in Spain between January and September 2008, according to data from the National Energy Commission.

"Spain should be at the forefront of "old" European countries, showing the right example to other member states on the way to develop renewable energies, in particular those which are about to set up mechanisms to develop their market," urged Macias. "The new regulations should be the opportunity to send the right message."

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