Solar panels in Alaior, Minorca. | MDB

According to the association of installers in the Balearics, the number of photovoltaic solar installations for self-consumption increased from 547 in 2018 to 7,811 by the end of August this year. Given the rate of growth, the association anticipates that there will be over 9,000 by the end of 2022 - a penetration of renewables in the islands' electricity system of just over ten per cent. The aim of the Balearic government is 35% by 2030.

The association's technical secretary, David Gimeno, says that the photovoltaic 'boom' started in 2019, which was when a Spanish government decree eliminated the so-called sun tax. Introduced by the Rajoy Partido Popular administration in 2015, this had meant payment for being connected to the electricity grid. Once this was removed, installation took off. At the same time, optimisation of these renewable facilities resulted in greater efficiency. Gimeno explains that whereas two square metres of panels used to produce 250 watts, they now produce 600.

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The increase in the price of electricity has also influenced the increase in installations. "People have seen that installing plates is profitable and, moreover, necessary." Meanwhile, Balearic government subsidies have had a positive impact. Between 2019 and the first quarter of 2022, the ministry of energy transition made available 24.4 million euros for self-consumption by individuals, businesses and public administrations.

There is now also aid from EU Next Generation funds. The director-general for energy and climate change, Pep Malagrava, says that the Balearics was the first region in Spain to open up financial aid for self-consumption from these funds. More staff are being taken on to manage the number of applications. Such is the growth that the government's target of 35% by 2030 is likely to be met four years ahead of schedule.

* Energy company Iberdrola defines photovoltaic self-consumption as occurring when individuals or companies consume the energy produced by photovoltaic generation installations located close to the place in which that energy is consumed. In addition to solar panels themselves, photovoltaic self-consumption installations include other elements such as inverters, cables, connectors and, optionally, batteries. This type of consumption not only leads to lower electricity bills, but also contributes to reducing climate change since it uses renewable energy.