Updated December 2022
While the definition of RECs has been transposed, much of the enabling framework, particularly from a regulation perspective, is still pending. Non-REC specific enabling measures, for instance around collective self-consumption, have nevertheless helped to spur the development of energy community projects for energy sharing. The incentives framework for collective self-consumption in Spain is quite favourable, with no grid fees or taxes attached to it. However, a dedicated energy sharing framework has not been adapted specifically to RECs. As such, existing RECs are rather limited in the options they have to undertake this activity. It is unclear if the Government has undertaken an official assessment of potential and barriers for the development of RECs, but the IDEA has developed a guide, which identifies some barriers for energy communities. The Government has proposed some interesting initiatives to promote the role of RECs in addressing energy poverty. Furthermore, it is using money under its Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan to provide development support and finance for energy communities and other collective initiatives, as well as support to municipalities. The Semi-Autonomous Regions have also set objectives for the development of energy communities, along with support frameworks that provide finance for community initiatives. The Semi-Autonomous Region of Navarra has also passed a law to promote RECs as Autonomous Public Interest projects. Some aspects of Spain’s renewables support schemes smaller projects focused around local ownership, while non-price criteria have been developed for all participants in tenders for solar and wind projects.
Overall, Spain has adopted some measures for self-consumption and within its national support scheme, as well as non-regulatory or legislative measures to help start building out the enabling framework for RECs. However, it has yet to address any aspects of the regulation of RECs in the sector, in particular to remove unjustified barriers and adapt regulation so that is more fair and proportionate for RECs.
Assessment of obstacles and potential for development of ECs
Through its Guide for the Development of Instruments for the Promotion of Energy Communities (Guía para desarrollar instrumentos de fomento de comunidades energéticas) , IDAE identifies both barriers and recommendations. It is unclear, however, if this was the official barriers and potentials study that was required to be carried out by the Renewable Energy Directive.
Removal of unjustified regulatory & administrative barriers
Not addressed in the transposition.
DSO duties around cooperation with ECs and facilitation of energy sharing
Energy sharing is available to RECs via the framework governing collective self-consumption. In principle, it is possible to share energy within three different geographic configuration: within a 500m radius (1 km circumference); under the same substation; and within the same property (cadastral reference). However, no framework has been specifically developed for RECs, and indeed a legal entity is not even required to engage in collective self-consumption. Due to this fact, most existing RECs use the legal framework provided in RD 244/2019 for collective self-consumption. This limits the scope of energy sharing, in particular excluding some other technologies such as wind and small-hydro.
The 500 km radius was recently expanded to 1km; however, this additional distance is only available to self-consumption projects using PV technology and only if located on buildings.
Fair, proportionate, and transparent registration & licensing procedures
There is no specific register for RECs. RECs are currently subject to the general licensing provisions for self-consumption based on renewable energy. RECs developers often complain about the complexity of administrative procedures, especially when it comes to obtaining permission to use the grid.
Incentives connected to network tariffs based on a CBA
Shared energy is for now considered as self-consumed. No taxes are paid on shared energy and grid fees are set for now at zero, but could be increased in the future. The incentives are therefore very favourable towards the economics of energy sharing initiatives.
Non-discriminatory treatment as market participant
Not addressed in the transposition.
Accessibility to low-income & vulnerable households
The “fight against energy poverty” is one of the criteria considered for receiving financial assistance under the umbrella of CE-Implementa, specific to RECs development. Nonetheless, through the involvement of (mainly) municipal administrations in specific RECs, the participation of vulnerable households is prioritised.
The National Strategy Against Energy Poverty 2019 establishes that among the measures to be considered in the medium/long term in the fight against energy poverty, the promotion of thermal and/or electrical self-consumption in association should be taken into account.
Tools to access finance
The Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan (Reform C7.R3) encompasses €100 million along 4 lines of assistance:
- Community Transformation Offices: funding for organisations and initiatives that have the aim of publicising the concept of REC and its benefits and accompanying and advising incipient RECs.
- “CE-Aprende”: funding to initiatives related to the dynamization, promotion and publicity of a specific incipient community with the aim of familiarising people and organisations interested with the concept and to identify and bring in possible partners and members.
- “CE-Planifica”: funding for planning and constitution of the REC (including feasibility studies, contract models, technical assistance, legal assistance, etc.).
- “CE-Implementa” (€40 million): the only line of funding currently in place (application period finished on 1 March 2022) that funds for up to 60% of the cost of REC projects in the fields of renewable and thermal energy, energy efficiency and/or emobility. Project selection takes into account innovativeness level, social participation, social benefits, fight against energy poverty, employment generation, gender perspective, and combination of different technologies.
Other components from the Recovery, Transformations and Resilience Plan have also been identified as suitable for RECs, although they are not specifically directed at them. Some issues have been expressed about how such funding applies to existing cooperatives in the sector. Combined with some lingering of confusion around the definitions, there is still confusion as to how financing can be accessed.
At regional level, Autonomous Communities (e.g. Comunidad Valenciana, Andalucía or Extremadura) and municipalities provide incentives to the establishment of self-consumption installations in the form of grants, subsidies and tax exemptions. These incentives are tied to specific prerequisites that each autonomous community establishes, including in terms of shareholder structure, geographical coverage etc.
Tools to access information
The Community Transformation Offices and CE-Aprende should facilitate access to information and promote REC’s concept. In terms of legal/technical support, the above-mentioned CE-Planifica has planning of all technical, legal and administrative aspects as its goal. Moreover, local administrations involved in developing RECs provide very important administrative support to RECs members.
Regulatory capacity building for public authorities
Some capacity building support exists for public authorities (although not regulatory). The IDAE’s Guide for Renewable Energy Communities, as well as the Guide for the promotion of RECs with a municipal perspective by the Diputación de Barcelona is a good example of this. Moreover, the CE-Aprende and CE-Oficinas219 call for proposals aims to set up a network of support activities from which public authorities may benefit, including the creation of subsidised offices across the Spanish territory.
NECP reporting on enabling frameworks
Not addressed in the transposition. Member States are required via the Governance Regulation (2018/1999) to report on their enabling frameworks for RECs by 15 March 2023.
Support Scheme adapted for RECs
RECs taken into account in the design of renewables support schemes
RECs have not been formally integrated into renewables support schemes in Spain. However, tenders conducted in 2021 and 2022 have earmarked auction capacity for ‘citizen-led distributed solar PV projects (300 MW and 150 MW, respectively. Criteria that apply are the following:
- an installed capacity equal to or less than 5 MW;
- an obligation to connect to the distribution grid at a voltage equal to or less than 45 kV;
- local and participatory ownership or financing of the installations;
- their location must be close to centres of electricity consumption; and
- the legal entity must be either: (i) a cooperative with at least 10 members residing within a radius of 30km from the installation; (ii) a local public administration; or (iii) a firm with at least 25% of its equity owned by local physical persons or entities.
To qualify to participate in the auction, all participants must submit a plan that contains the following information:
- Description of the investment;
- Procurement strategy;
- Estimation of direct and indirect employment created during the installation and future operation of the project at a local, regional and national level;
- Estimation of the impact in national, regional and local value chains (i.e., supplies, manufacturing components, transportation, etc.);
- Circular economy strategy for the installation’s components after their lifespan;
- Analysis of the carbon footprint of the installation;
- Social and environmental good practices that will be implemented during the construction and operation of the project;
- Communication strategy to inform local citizens of the impacts and benefits of the installation; and
- Plan to introduce local citizen participation in the project.
Support for excess production from an energy sharing initiative fed into the grid
Injection to the grid may either be 1) sold to the market, or 2) compensated by a supplier through discounts in the invoice. If the surpluses are sold to the market, all the surpluses are assigned to the PV installations. If the surpluses are compensated, each participant gets the discount for his own surpluses in the supplier invoice. Surpluses that exceed imported consumption are not compensated.