Earlier this month, the Council of Ministers approved a royal decree-law, of measures against energy poverty that, among other actions, repeal the charge to self-consumption, more commonly known as the ‘sun tax’. It will no longer be necessary to register facilities under 100 kilowatts (KW) in the administrative register of electricity production facilities, eliminating tolls or charges for them. So under these circumstances, everything indicates that the number of facilities will increase.
Unlike thermal solar panels – which heat the water consumed in the homes -, photovoltaic solar panels are not compulsory requested to be installed in new construction, according to the Technical Building Code (CTE). This, together with the sun tax, has discouraged / disincentivised the installation of this type of clean energy. In fact, currently the electrical power registered in the self-consumption facilities reaches 1,196 megawatts (MW), with barely a thousand self-consumers.
Everything indicates that the trend will change and that this type of facilities, which are very simple – more than thermal solar panels, which are more complex-, because they can be done in a day, practically, without the need of building-works. What are the steps and the considerations that you must have in mind to bet on this renewable energy?
- The first step to perform the most appropriate installation is to consult a professional, who will not only carry out a personalized study of the family’s consumption, but will also review the place where the panels will be installed. Aspects such as the structural integrity of the roof, the play of shadows and sun that occurs throughout the day in it (depending on its orientation, height, surrounding buildings …) or the possibility of taking advantage of the electrical panel with that we have to connect the panels, are just some of the details to take into account.
- Depending on our energy demand, the surface area that we will need of photovoltaic panels will vary and, therefore, the price. Moving in the range of 500 to 4,500 watts, prices can be around 3,000-4,000 euros, with amortization periods that move between 10-15 years for surfaces of about 30 square meters. It is, then, a decision that transcends mere economic savings, entering considerations of being self-sufficient energetically or of respect for the environment.
- Savings are perceived from the moment the installation is completed. The system is prepared so that the energy consumption that is produced comes from that generated by the photovoltaic panels, not resorting to the supply network as long as it is not necessary. It is also possible to install a battery to take advantage of the surplus of clean energy at night: the good news is that we will save money on the electricity bill because we will still consume less; the bad news is that the cost of these batteries can exceed 8,000 euros.
- The existing technology allows us to monitor in real time the amount of energy that we are generating with these solar panels. In addition, apps are already very common on our mobile phone or tablet, with which to check the energy consumption of the whole house.
- Finally and given the life time of these facilities, it is very important to perform a proper maintenance. Not only is it advisable to check weekly the indicators of the load regulator or if obstacles have appeared (trees, new buildings …) that produce shadows on the panels, but also keep them clean. The manufacturer always includes a series of recommendations for this, but what is never correct is to use water under pressure, as it could damage the surface. It is better to use cloths or sponges paying attention to if the water in our area has too much lime, because when evaporating it could leave residue and thus damage the performance.