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Renewable Energy

Spain - Renewable Energy

Spain has been a fairly heavy user of fossil fuels until recently, and now there are measures being put into place to encourage the use of renewable energy sources. Wind power is one of the main ways in which mains electricity is generated by the energy companies, but there are also several options available to the domestic user if they want to generate energy themselves at home. It is estimated that almost half the energy needs of Spanish residents are met by renewable energy sources.

Solar energy is probably the best one to begin with thanks to the many hours of sunshine that are enjoyed by much of the country each year. This can be used to simply heat water and in 2007, it was made compulsory for new homes and buildings that are being renovated to have solar powered hot water system. This type of system can also be used to heat a swimming pool. In addition they can be used to run a central heating or other type of heating system. One of the concerns in Spain has been that solar panels will not provide enough energy, particularly on the rare days when the weather is not so good, but the latest panels are much more efficient and will work well even on cloudy days. During 2010 in Andalucia, usage of solar panels increased by more than 150% and the region now has solar thermal energy production plants.

Solar power is considered to be ideal for those homes which are remote and cannot therefore be connected to the mains electricity systems. The systems cost very little to run and require only minimal maintenance, although the initial installation can be high. There are grants available in some areas for this but these vary. More information can be found from a local authorized installer.

Wind turbines are in use in Spain on a large scale and in March 2011 wind power was responsible for 21% of the electricity which was generated in the country. There are 130 wind farms in the Andalucia region alone. A domestic wind turbine requires very little room and can be installed relatively easily, although many domestic users in Spain are put off by the appearance of the turbine. Another concern is the noise that comes from the turbine. Again, there are grants available to help but these are limited and there are qualifying criteria.

Geothermal energy is considered to be very efficient and simple. This takes the energy from the ground through loops which are buried in the soil and passes it through a heat exchange unit in order to convert it into heat. In the event that the homeowner does not have the land for the installation of such a system, an aerothermal system is another option. This is an air pump which takes heat from the air around us and which can produce good heat, even when the air is particularly cold. The only requirement for the air pump system is an outside wall and this can also be used to power an under floor heating system and even keep the house cool during the warmer months. The pump will need to be powered by mains electric, but will produce four times the energy that it uses. Geothermal and aerothermal systems can be used to heat a swimming pool or domestic hot water.

Both geothermal and aerothermal systems are relatively new in Spain and at the moment both solar and wind power are favoured by domestic users, but this is considered to be a reliable system. One of the downsides is the installation cost but there may be grants available to homeowners.

The government grants which are available to qualifying homeowners mean that people can get up to 50% off the cost of installing the system. These can only be obtained by using a government approved installation company. Those who apply need to be sure that they meet the criteria, which is regularly reviewed. An installation company will be able to tell you if you qualify for one of the grants.

Due to the increasing popularity there are usually a number of authorized installers in each region and these will be listed in the local yellow pages.

Useful Resources

Oasis Energy and Building Solutions
Tel: + 34 902 19 03 78

Solosol Energia
Tel: + 34 679 21 37 76
Email: info@solosol.net

Read more about this country

Expat Health Insurance Partners

Bupa Global

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