Climate changeEnergy

Spain’s energy cooperatives are leading the drive to harness solar energy

The government declared that some of the current renewable energy allocations will be in small lots rather than enormous tranches that only giant energy corporations can pay, giving a boost to Spain’s growing energy cooperative movement. Following consecutive governments’ submission to the requirements of the electricity companies, this step signifies a shift in mindset.

It comes as rural and urban cooperatives aim to break free from major electricity suppliers, who took advantage of strong demand during the current heatwave to raise prices to new highs. Friends of the Earth’s energy spokeswoman, Cristina Alonso, praised the government’s apparent shift in attitude as “a positive step – but not one that truly promotes energy communities since it doesn’t define what they are.” These must be characterized as democratic and truly self-governing.”

Since the repeal of the so-called “sunshine tax” in 2018, solar installation has exploded. In 2015, the right-wing administration enforced this on self-sufficient users in order to deprive electricity corporations of revenue. Consumers were also required to provide their excess energy to the grid at no cost. With no gas or oil and little coal, Spain’s most valuable energy resource is sunlight, which is still underutilized. As per the Spanish Electric Network, renewables contributed 43.6 percent of energy output in 2020, with solar power accounting for only 6.1 percent and wind (21.7 percent) and nuclear power accounting for the rest (22.2 percent).

Even though Germany received only 1,896 hours of sunlight in 2020, compared to almost 3,000 hours in Spain, Germany has three times the amount of solar electricity installed. In countries where the majority of people reside in single-family homes, anyone can choose to install solar panels. However, in Spain, 66.5 percent of the population lives in apartment buildings, which are frequently a mix of owners and tenants, making the situation more complicated.

Installing solar panels on the rooftops of public buildings like schools, factories, and warehouses, which can give electricity to neighbouring households and businesses, is one answer to the difficulty of getting everyone to commit to investing in renewables for a multi-occupied facility.

The non-profit Sustainability Observatory has recommended a rooftop initiative that would generate 15,400GWh, enough energy for 7.5 million people, for a six-year investment.

Athletic Bilbao football team is offering this to their neighbours. The club added 300 solar panels when it constructed a new stadium in the year 2013, and its subsidiary Tekathletic now provides electricity to 200 businesses and homes within a 500-meter radius at prices that are 25% less than the current rate.

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