News of the month (December 2004).

Ministers in Spain have announced that they plan to take advantage of the countries abundance of sunshine by making solar panels compulsory in all new and renovated buildings as to improve the environment and in the long run also save on energy bills.

This new regulation could effect more than half a million new houses a year, if the current pace of construction is maintained at its current level, and builders observe this ruling.

But some critics of the plans say that the implementation of such measures could increase construction costs by around €1,250 (£888.00) per dwelling, but with the price of oil rising above £26 a barrel (€37), solar energy could produce savings of at least £50 (€80) a year on fuel to heat domestic water supplies per household, and reduce greenhouse gases, the Government said.

Jose Montilla, the Industry Minister, said recently that from next year, anyone who intends to build a home will be obliged to include solar panels in their plans, with the aim of turning Spain into a European leader in the use of renewable energy, especially Solar PV and Solar Hot Water.

According to government estimates a single two-metre solar panel on the roof of a home can cut its water-heating bills by up to 70 per cent a year.



Spain is trailing behind Germany , Europe ’s current solar energy leader, where 5.4 million sq metres of solar panels are currently in use. But surprisingly even though Spain is one of the worlds leading PV manufacturers (BP Solar have a large manufacturing capacity in Spain fro example), it is not one of the leaders in utilizing this technology in it’s construction or energy industry.

According to some estimates, installation of solar panels in 3.5 million dwellings built in the past five years in Spain would have yielded a fuel cost saving of €245 million.

Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, and his Socialist Government, are planning to increase by 10 times the area (sq M) of solar panels in use in Spain by the year 2010, from the present number of 581,000 sq metres.

Señor Montilla promised subsidies to encourage further take-up of solar panels and to ease the financial pain of the new measure, but he did not give any more details on this.

Sources taken from reading the Times.


December 2004