Solar in Europe is gaining popularity at exponential speed, especially impacted by both the current political situation and the ongoing concern about climate change. But not all is doom and gloom when it comes to renewable energy – as this year Genera showed, there’s plenty to look forward to in the Spanish market. Spain set a target for itself to reach 39.2GW by 2030, an important goal after years of stagnation that hit the country back in 2008. Currently, Spain is on the direct path to growth when it comes to solar, and analysts believe that the country is likely to remain in the top 5 EU markets until 2025.

Rooftop is the new solar

While the solar growth will continue to be driven by utility scale projects, the country seems to focus on the often overlooked potential of rooftop. Back in 2019, Spain only had 69MW of rooftop solar, but according to SPE 2021 Report, rooftop solar made up about 1.3GW out of 4.4GW of installed capacity for 2021. Experts believe that over the coming months, until the end of 2022, rooftop solar could rise to 2GW, chasing after the 3GW that’s predicted for utility scale. Currently, large scale systems make up about 80% of total installed capacity. And that’s not the limit – as the grid opens up for more connection points, utility scale growth should rise accordingly.

Based on the European Commission REPowerEU plan, 25% of energy demand in the EU could be met by solar power. Spain seems to be setting itself to capitalize on such plans, with extra attention towards rooftop. After unfavorable policies that impacted the country for close to a decade, new laws are more favorable – it will only take interested parties up to 3 months to receive project permits at expedited rate.

REPowerEU Plan. Source: European Commission

Rooftop solar projects will not only have the support of the local government, European lawmakers also seek to enhance the implementation of clean energy. And one of the possible paths is the obligatory inclusion of rooftop solar in new constructions. Spanish Vice President Teresa Ribera expressed her support for this initiative, which further enhances the prospects of rooftop solar in Spain.

Distributed Generation (or Self-Consumption)

Distributed generation (DG for short) projects go hand in hand with solar, and, naturally, with a boost in rooftop solar, DG sees additional resurgence. DG might provide the communities with the local energy, however, there needs to be additional supervision in the form of long term policies that will protect smaller community projects from large MNCs and potential consolidation of the sector.

Raising awareness of the convenience and benefit of distributed generation, which includes rooftop solar, could see to the more widespread accessibility to clean energy. In Spain, community solar is supported by subsidies, encouraging people to invest in renewables within their own communities. This trend should last for the foreseeable future (3-4 years), and with the improving technology, rooftop solar is more accessible than ever. Additionally, it’s not just residential communities that can invest in local solar. Larger scale projects can be transferred to rooftops too, offering many of the same benefits that solar parks do, only… it’s up high, instead of on the ground, saving space and land. And PVcase Roof Mount can provide the perfect mix of automation, efficiency and quality when designing rooftop PV projects of a larger scope.

Renewables can be more sustainable with ESG

Genera conference touched upon another important aspect of the Spanish market: the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices. ESG projects are gaining traction in the country, they consider biodiversity and development of the local community, basically weighing the corporate investments against sustainability. Some of the projects are even opening up to local investors from the community.

Among the proponents of ESG practices is the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF), who prepared the best practices report related to such projects, and offers “Sello de excelencia” awards for sustainable solar. Among the more notable ESG projects is the Talayuela plant, designed and built by Solarcentury (now Statkraft). The project ensures the conservation and restoration of the local wildlife and flora, while housing a photovoltaic plant. The plant was built with extra care: the project used environmentally friendly equipment, the construction included a series of preventive measures, and the maintenance is done with electric vehicles with no local emissions. Examples of similar projects within Spain include: Campos de Levante in Valencia, designed by Falck Renewables, and PSFV Las Corchas & Los Naranjos Carmona by Endesa, built in Seville.