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…

Sigue leyendo

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:

Sigue leyendo

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.

Sigue leyendo

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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The missing toll – (El peaje que falta…)

*This post is in english with the goal of sharing internationally the latest retroactive and (in my opinion) “desperate” energy policy in Spain, as well as the draft for what would be the most deleterious microgeneration legislation in the world.

As I already posted before, Spain’s electrical system is in a “grid independence cycle“, where fixed costs are higher than variable and therefore, reductions in consumption are followed by increases in final prices, even with decreasing variable (market energy prices), leading to further consumption reduction (and ultimately grid disconnections –here some examples in US-).

Grid independence fee

The latest legislation (published 12/07/2013) tries to fight against the growing deficit, by retroactively deleting Feed in tariffs, reducing retribution to transport, distribution, and increasing end user tariffs (mainly on the fixed toll)

Once the irretroactivity principle was broken (limiting hours, introducing taxes, etc), why not delete the FIT completely? Sigue leyendo

DG extends asset life – PV Grid

The results from PV Grid study initial report were presented in Madrid this week (organized on the 3rd July by @UNEFotvoltaica) and there was some interesting discussion on Solar PV integration.

One of the issues presented by the distributors (Enel, Fenosa and Iberdrola) were the inverted power flows in substations and the difficulties to control voltage when distributed PV reaches certain penetration. This was specially the case for Enel Distribution, as they presented an example in Puglia of reverted power flow from +10 MW to -30 MW, consequence of distributed solar. In my opinion, although having much more distributed PV than spanish distributors (15,9 GW Vs 4,3 GW), was not as “worried”.

The issue I want to highlight here is actually the increase in PV penetration in distribution has the effect of reducing the load of distribution transformers, specially in the hottest moments, therefore reducing insulaton degradation (see IEC Thermal index and halving interval in IEC 60216). This can actually increase the life of these assets, benefitting the distribution company.

PV protecting trafo

It’s true that when power flows become reversed, and higher than normal consumption load, the effect is reduced lifetime, but up to this “reverted-equivalent-load” point it is of interest to the distributor to have additional distributed generation. Moreover, where losses influence the distributor’s regulated income, having enough PV to reach a load-consumption zero-sum as much time as possible during the day is in it’s economic interest (as in the following graph).

Load change with DG increase

In my opinion, distributors should set distributed generation targets per area in order to reduce their substation loads and increase their assets lifetime. Not too much intelligence (no smart grid hard/software)  is required to manage this, just setting the best case generation in the distribution, and promoting/accepting connection points up to the most appropriate to their network.

II Congreso Genedis – Madrid y la colectivización de consumo

Organiza: Fenercom Madrid (link a las ponencias incluida la mía)

Lugar y fecha: Madrid, 17 y 18 de Abril

En mi opinión resultó un evento muy completo, con representantes de utilities, centros de investigación, fabricantes, promotores, escos, estudios de arquitectura, etc. Y como no podía ser de otra manera hubo discusiones sobre balance neto y autoconsumo (por ejemplo una persona de Iberdrola criticaba el peligro del autoconsumo para la seguridad de los operarios, sin poder explicar qué protecciones le “faltan” al RD1699 para garantizarla). Pero hubo mucho más, por ejemplo sobre geotermia y la impresionante competitividad de la biomasa para comunidades de vecinos, industrias y edificios en general. Otro tema, muy relacionado con mi ponencia, que dijeron cada vez se plantean más estudios de arquitectura y promotoras es el diseño de nuevas promociones directamente off-grid, como el caso que se publicó hace poco, de Gehrlicher, indepentes de la red eléctrica (como planteaba en un post antiguo)

La crisis agudiza el ingenio y la innovación, con lo que también se presentaban innovaciones españolas como el concepto CLU de polígono inteligente, el generador bi-energy o conceptos novedosos de aerogenerador de eje vertical.Joined Hands

Un tema que quiero compartir, especialmente, es la discusión que hubo sobre la legalidad de la colectivización del consumo eléctrico (compra colectiva de electricidad para conseguir mejor precio). La ley actual no permite a una comunidad de vecinos o polígono industrial comprar colectivamente la electricidad y repartir con sub-metering, salvo que quien la comercialice sea comercializadora de electricidad. La excepción a la reventa de electricidad por no-comercializadoras es la autorización a gestores de carga de vehículos eléctricos, pero exclusivamente para este fin. Realmente basta con que comercializadoras actúen como escos (o viceversa), ofreciendo servicios de gestión de microrred, o que la esco o gestor energético no revenda electricidad sino venda el servicio de gestión en horas efectivas o con otro tipo de tarifas no eléctricas. Al final no tiene tanta miga y es perfectamente realizable, las microrredes y los gestores energéticos son figuras que debemos empezar a ver cada vez más, será una muestra de que el mercado (al menos una parte) eléctrico está avanzando hacia un mercado competitivo e innovador tan necesario.