|Solar power is becoming popular again, thanks to a change in policy|
There is one thing that the sunshine hasn’t delivered for a while though, and that’s reliable solar power. Spain became a world leader for solar power between 2008 and 2010, with sweeping transformations that turned practically the whole country into a vast solar farm pumping free and clean energy straight to the Spanish power grid.
It was a matter of time before homeowners wanted to get in on the action, and the government supported it at first by offering homeowners who installed solar panels some generous rates; essentially paying for people to generate their own solar power and feed it into the grid.
But the solar boom of Spain, much like the property boom, grew at too rapid a pace. The government quickly came to realise that their generosity could have damaging repercussions. As more people switched to solar power, the government ran out of money to support their solar policy. The new government of 2012 started looking at ways to take back some of the money that had been spent on solar power, and introduced a controversial “sun tax”; charging people for exporting their excess power back to the grid.
The future of solar power in Spain went from bright to overcast in a single move. Things stayed like this until recently this year when the government – perhaps feeling bolder after securing a second term and boosting the economy – decided to auction renewable energy. The premise of these auctions would be supporting renewable energy projects based on the best offers made by companies when possible.
Wind power was the initial winner of these schemes, but the latest government-backed auction from this week saw solar power win pretty big and win the right to develop 3.5 gigawatts (GW) of brand new solar projects. This equates to around two-thirds of the current installed capacity, and the projects should be finished by 2020.
There are plenty of benefits to this including helping Spainto meet carbon emission reduction targets, improving air quality and reducingpollution, and lowering the energy bills of consumers.