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

Why I supported GravityLight (twice)

The concept of the GravityLight is simple and yet very innovative. It consists in a light powered by gravity, it is charged by lifting a weight and letting its descent run the generator and the light.

Of course, it is only possible now thanks to the LED lights and other efficiency gains. With old light bulbs, the duration of the same concept would be ridicule, but now, a simple lift of 2-3 seconds can provide for almost 30 minutes of light.

Gravity Light Image from Wikimedia Commons

The running costs are null, and compared to the alternative of kerosene lamps, the impact is enormous in reducing costs, environmental impact, as well as reducing fire risks and negative consequences of smoke on the health of the users….

Sigue leyendo

Research article: Asessing Islanding Microgrids

The article we recently published, presents a method to assess the most appropriate microgrid configuration, depending on the costs of grid energy, renewable prices, storage, islanding conditions, etc:

Article Microgrids

Our definition of microgrid includes any network on household or building when including control, generation, storage or islanding capabilities. These microgrids must ask themselves what configuration is their best option, from full utility dependence to off-grid… The thing is: You ARE a microgrid, so what kind of microgrid is best for you to be?

Timer Plug off-grid TICTAC

Image from newkemall on

Actually, to turn every household and every residential, industrial or commercial building into a microgrid, with a Home – Building Energy Management system, with renewable generation (and storage) is the way of implementing the Smart Grid bottom-up and also Democratizing power generation.

It also pushes the system towards net-zero energy buildings which is the way forward pointed out by the EC, for example.

You also wonder what the Grid Independence Cycle is?

Read the article and take a look at Spain, where the menace for a toll on self-consumption and the fact that fixed costs are higher than variable costs may lead the system into the circle, with increasing partial or complete islanding (even with an additional toll, who knows) from the network.

Partial/progressive off-grid, a proposal

I already commented on the self-consumtion regulation in draft in Spain, (basically a retroactive measure to stop any development). The reason behind is the excess of fixed system costs; with decreasing energy consumption, power and energy prices increase in a feedback loop. Blocking self-consumption is an attemp to avoid further grid energy consumption decrease.

Off-grid balance

As in other countries with similar fixed costs, decreasing demand pushes towards higher energy prices, and taxing self-consumption is seen as a regulatory solution. Apparently off-grid is becoming already a cheaper option. As it is not the best solution for the system as a whole, an intermediate solution could be the following: Sigue leyendo

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

100% Renewables. First stop: Islands. Hierro Declaration.

The island of El Hierro, in the Canary Islands, is set to become the first Ithaca, where the 100% renewables goal will be a reality thanks to the Gorona del Viento project.

The government has created a Declaration, open for everyone to subscribe and support:

“Declaration of el Hierro”

It is an interesting initiative to promote the concept, involve everyone and is a nice marketing for the island in terms of tech and eco-tourism.

Other islands are following. And the change is coming fast, as renewables are already beyond diesel parity.