In July 2014, the Barcelona City Council approved a EUR 11.3 million subsidy scheme for rooftop renovation and green roofs development (see the attached flyer), including incentives for the installation of solar thermal technologies. Applications will be accepted until 31 December 2014. With the scheme, the council expects to reach at least 5,100 households or 0.8 % of the city’s entire housing stock.
Figure: Consorci de l´Habitatge de Barcelona
Despite Spain’s lack of nationwide incentives for thermal technologies, some councils and governments at local or regional level, such as in Andalusia, have been approving some interesting credit lines and direct incentives for energy efficiency, including for the installation of solar thermal technologies.
Subsidy requires 4-year maintenance contract
One of the latest initiatives has been introduced by the city of Barcelona. The new incentives for building renovation approved in July 2014 include a subsidy for those who are willing to install solar thermal systems on their roofs. One of the incentives is a direct subsidy covering up to half the cost of renovation, including solar thermal systems, with the amount being capped at EUR 60,000 for structures built prior to 1981. The subsidy can also be used to repair solar thermal systems that have not been working properly. This is a common occurrence across Spain, as many systems were only installed on building roofs because of the compulsory Technical Building Code, CTE, and the current crisis, as well as financial constraints have resulted in unfinished installations.
To prevent the installation of barely efficient solar thermal systems, the incentive scheme stipulates a 4-year maintenance contract which requires continuous monitoring of system performance and functionality. As a design requirement, the solar systems are to be installed in places with a limited view from public places.
After contracting for five years, the Spanish solar thermal market experienced a slight upward trend of 1.5 % in 2013, with 163 MWth of solar thermal systems installed across the country, according to the Spanish solar thermal industry association, ASIT. This year, the association expects a further stabilisation of the market, mainly because of a recovering construction industry. Barcelona’s and other municipalities’ and regions’ incentives give an important impetus to further growth.
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Alejandro Diego Rosell is a freelance journalist and consultant specialised in renewable energies and based in Madrid, Spain.