How to crowdfund unsubsidized solar

This solar power plant is an important milestone in Spain!

Since April this year, the new 2 MW crowdfunded solar park in Spain from Som Energía has been producing power. It is unique because it has no subsidies and because the energy is sold to the retail cooperative, so the price is supplied at cost* to the investors.

Image Share by Som Energía from Alcolea plan

Image Shared by Som Energía from Alcolea plan

I’m proud of having participated in this project. It’s sustainable, doesn’t need subsidies and also a good investment. The funding will be returned with no interest, but the benefit is through the reduced energy costs in the retail monthly invoice.

Living in a flat with little space for solar panels, I find it very difficult and inefficient to install one or a couple of self-consumption solar panels. So this is a natural option, to team-up with other people to own together renewable power generation. And it avoids facing the so-called tax on the sun (discussed some time ago here).

Of course there are other investment options like Yieldcos (I have shares from Saeta Yield myself). Or simply buying 100% renewable electricity from the retailer. But helping build this small project with a cooperative feels closer to owning the plant. And power generation not only owned by big corporations is also positive, as has been the case in Germany. We can say it’s a good example of the sharing economy, too…

What other options do you see to participate as an individual in the energy transition?

*Actual calculation is 36 €/MWh, which means 6 €/MWh below the market before taxes and network charges.

Asset utilization Vs Energy transition

Collaborative economy, also called the sharing economy, is growing, and it can be understood as a synonym for resource efficiency and increased asset utilization. It also allows the energy transition. How? An example; car sharing, offers increased asset utilization of the vehicles and fosters the energy transition with more sustainable mobility.

In the energy sector, and in the case of utilities, this is not very common, but let’s try to look at some trends;

For example, grid interconnections, as proposed with the EU Energy Union policy, is part of a more collaborative economy. It means the sharing of power capacity and available renewable resources in an extended market. Of course it is not peer-to-peer, but instead “grid-to-grid”. Interconnections improve asset utilization (of the most competitive assets at least, as well as avoiding investments in peaking capacity) and also help toward the energy transition as abundant renewable power can be exchanged between countries.

Image by Gabriel Schouten de Jel

Image by Gabriel Schouten de Jel on

For Spain, with high generation overcapacity, to increase interconnections is key to making use of existing power capacity and avoiding wind spilling, for example.

However, there is another example of improved asset utilization where there is a conflict with the energy transition…

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The grid as an emergency supply?

It’s official. Finally Spain has the most toll-intensive consumer power generation (what is called self-consumption) law in the world. The so-called “sun tax” is in place.

It is important to understand the worries of the regulator here;

Given the high fixed costs of the system, further reductions of electricity demand (as with self-consumption) increase the price of energy in a Grid independence cycle. The goal of increasing the toll on self-consumption is to ensure the system costs are covered, delay the implementation of self-consumption (starting in the islands and small systems), delay consumer energy storage (in fact it is also a “battery tax”) and (try to) avoid further political problems. Of course, it is not the best solution, academics and regulatory experts agree that politically fixed costs that have to be paid by all citizens shouldn’t be in the tariff but evenly paid from the nation’s bugdet (like the extra-costs for electricity in the islands).

Image by Cancia Leirissa on

“Grid Emergency Exit”                                                       Image by Cancia Leirissa on

What are the consequences? Rising prices, and the fact that fixed costs (for the contracted power) are surging, push the active consumer to look for the following solutions:

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Sea Energy Harvesting – off-shore

Of course, onshore resources are first.

Of course, it will take a long time before it’s real business, but we can start with the vision…

Where is the most “energy intense” location on earth in terms of wind, solar and other renewable sources? Is it onshore or off-shore?

Let’s see what sea energy harvesting is about…

Derived from Image by

Concept derived from Image by

There was in 2011 an interesting research I recommend here, that overlapped the irradiation and the temperature, in order to determine where solar can yield more, given the PV panels are less efficient the higher the temperature. The resulting optimal areas for generation where the Himalayas (not too accessible), the Antarctica (similar to off-shore) and regions in the southern Andes.

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Energycon 2014

Organized by: IEEE

Date & venue: 12-16 May, 2014, Cavtat- Dubrovnik – Hotel Croatia

The Energycon event was an opportunity to present a research paper on Smart Grid decision making part of my PhD. Very related to the topic I discussed in an old post: Smart Money for Smart Grids. It was included in the Distribution Grid Planning and Operation Session, part of the Track- Low Carbon Energy Systems.

The event, was also an opportunity to see other research on the subject, and enjoy the surroundings.

Cavtat adriatic view

A view from the hotel venue of the Adriatic

It’s impressive to see the number of presented papers on smart grid, for example Sigue leyendo

Jornada AEEE – Jóvenes y no tan jóvenes del sector

Organiza: Sección de estudiantes y jóvenes de la AEEE y Enerclub

Fecha: 19/09/2013

Lugar: Club Español de la Energía

cabecera AEEE

Resultó una jornada muy entretenida, e interesante, por las diversas opiniones que se defendieron en las mesas redondas. Incluida una anecdótica intervención que recojo como insólita; Una persona, explicando la tendencia hacia mayores costes fijos en la factura, indicó a los asistentes que quizás “estamos yendo hacia un nuevo concepto de eficiencia energética, en la que un padre no le dice a su hijo que apague la luz para ahorrar sino que le dice; niño, enciende más luces” Desde luego un nuevo concepto, tan nuevo como contrario al significado de eficiencia energética…

Aparte de esta “genialidad”, quiero resaltar en mi blog la participación de Miguel Ángel Fernández-Ordoñez, que con claridad y autoridad defendió las bondades de la competencia y de la huida de la competencia, para acabar con los problemas actuales del sistema energético español. La regulación debe fomentar la competencia, para lograr una mayor eficiencia en el sistema y que ésta se traslade al consumidor. Esta regulación debe ser realizada por las personas con mayor cualificación y con independencia del poder político. Además, la política de “campeones nacionales” es ineficiente y según se ha demostrado, una política que defienda un mejor mercado hace empresas más competitivas y más grandes. Es decir, obtiene mejores resultados que la defensa de las grandes empresas. En concreto en el mercado eléctrico, la integración también equivale a competencia, es decir, un operador/planificador de infraestructuras de red único europeo y la ampliación de las inteconexiones.

No fueron estos los únicos comentarios relevantes, por eso tan pronto tenga el link a la transcripción, la colgaré en este post.

Solar Panel 3D printing

Solar panel manufacturing has benefited from economies of scale in the race to lower the costs, following an impressive learning curve (see BNEF curve). But will the future bring the cheapest solar panels, being printed where needed from a simple and cheap device?

This is already happening in manufacturing, as described brilliantly by Chris Anderson in Makers. With technology already available for printing solar cells on paper, innovation improving efficiency and durability, is set to revolutionize solar panel manufacturing. Centralized production would be complemented by local micro-manufacturing.


Solar photovoltaics is today the best example/solution for democratization of power generation, as it allows simple and scalable self-consumption. Democratizing also the manufacturing of the panel would take it a step further, boosting solar generation capacity well above the actual double digit yearly growth.

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