RENOBAT

THE SATISFACTION OF PRODUCING AND CONSUMING PHOTOVOLTAIC ENERGY AT HOME

Ernesto Macías Galán, Managing Director of SolarWatt Spain

It goes without saying that I represent a manufacturer of photovoltaic modules and batteries, so I take it for granted that my opinion will be considered as self-serving and/or unobjective. I am reassured to know that there is no such thing as an objective opinion and that mine, although it coincides with the interests of my company, is intended to be sincere and honest.

In fact, the company I represent started manufacturing batteries just three years ago in Germany as a result of an early market analysis of where the new renewable energy (RES) based electricity system solutions should go. And in Germany they have not hesitated to go for storage systems. In residential installations, it celebrated its 100,000th installed battery last summer.

My argument is quite simple: on an industrial scale, self-consumption with injection into the grid, financially rewarded, was and is already contemplated, which is still a form of net balance, insofar as what is not self-consumed and fed into the grid is remunerated. When speculating on mechanisms to ‘net’ generation and consumption, the formulas are multiple and it will be difficult – if not impossible – to find one that satisfies the parties involved.

Since we started talking about self-consumption in Spain, many of us understood that it was the way to turn electricity consumers into “prosumers”, as a way to contribute to the creation of a more efficient and cleaner energy system, contributing to the fight against climate change and the energy independence of our country. And providing significant savings for producer-consumers.

Producing energy to barter with the grid, I don’t understand it as self-consumption. This brings us back to the mercantilist vision of photovoltaics, which is respectable and justifiable in the model of large plants, but has nothing to do with the philosophy of ‘democratisation’ of energy that has been so much talked about and defended over the years.

In the case of residential self-consumption, which should lead to solar photovoltaic energy becoming as popular and everyday in Spain as in other countries such as Germany or Australia, with millions of homes benefiting from the sun’s energy, the use of batteries is almost essential in most cases. Because households normally consume more energy when the sun is not shining.

In short, there is no one who denies that the ‘distributed model’ based on renewables must necessarily rely on storage, from domestic to industrial and grid storage. If now, in Spain, we promote a net balance that prioritises the financial arithmetic and expels batteries from the equation, we will break this path of technological development, as we did with the unfortunate and self-interested RD 661/2007, and we will kill the incipient national battery industry and the model itself.

On the other hand, if we look at the decree of last October, we are going to have serious problems to reconcile all the approved aspects. By decoupling the contracted power from the installed PV power, will we be able to generate much more than we consume? Is it physically and technically feasible? Is it financially? How will the system handle this, especially for installations below 15 kWp?

I understand who says that batteries are still expensive, but they are already financially profitable in Spain for those who decide to invest in them. No subsidies. Mathematics does not fail. No one doubts that they will continue to fall, but if we ‘take them out’ of the self-consumption solution, putting the apparently simpler formula of net balance before it, we will once again be betting on ‘bread for today and hunger for tomorrow’. Let us learn from our mistakes and make far-sighted decisions. And, at the same time, let us support Spanish and European industry. What we need.