The example of Spain, solar energy

The Spanish example: Barcelona, ​​compulsory solar water heaters

As part of its energy improvement program, Barcelona decided in 2000 to make the installation of thermal solar panels compulsory to supply hot water to any newly constructed or rehabilitated building. An initiative adopted since by about fifty cities in Spain, including Madrid and Seville and which will be the subject of a national law in 2005.

Catalonia and its capital Barcelona have applied their singularity to ecology. To reduce the use of fossil fuels and fight, in its own way, against global warming, a municipal decree, promulgated in the summer of 1999, effective since August 2000, decreed the widespread and compulsory installation of solar water heaters. in any new or refurbished building where the consumption of hot water exceeds 2 liters per day. The objective is that it must represent at least 000% of the hot water needs.

By "building", the decree designates residential buildings, but also barracks, prisons, places dedicated to health, sports equipment (stadiums, gymnasiums), certain commercial premises, industrial buildings (for hot water used for the manufacturing process or for staff showers), or any other surface with collective canteens, kitchens or laundry rooms. The private sector as well as the public sector are therefore targeted.

20 000 m2 of solar collectors

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To date, four years after the promulgation of this decree, which, if it fueled the debates upon its announcement, "Did not meet any real opposition", we point out in Barcelona, ​​232 projects have been submitted. According to the Barcelona Energy Agency, which offers on its website a detailed follow-up of the application of the ordinance, these projects represent a potential (not all are carried out) of 20 m000 of solar thermal collectors (in mostly intended for the residential sector). Before the entry into force of this measure, only 2 m1 were installed. This is equivalent, according to the Agency, to a saving of 650 tonnes of CO2 per year, and 2 MWH of energy production per year, or the equivalent of the needs of a population of 756 people for one year. At this rate, the Agency hopes to see 2 m15 of thermal solar panels adorning the roofs of Barcelona by 675.

2005, the year of solar thermal in Spain

Solar thermal panels seem well accepted.  "The installation of these panels has even become a marketing argument put forward by real estate developers"  notes with surprise Victor Almagro, director of Enersoft, a Barcelona engineering firm specializing in solar thermal energy, a Spanish subsidiary of one of the main French consulting firms dedicated to solar energy, Tecsol. " If this represents a slight cost, the developers amortize it thanks to the value taken by the apartment, smiles Victor Almagro, so much the real estate market has soared. Moreover, most solar water heater projects are carried out without the aid offered by the equivalent of Ademe in Spain, which is too complicated to obtain. " Today, 25 municipalities in Catalonia (i.e. 50% of the Catalan population) have issued such a decree, and in all, 50 cities as emblematic as Madrid or Seville are applying this program. A national law is planned for 2005 to promote the development of solar thermal energy. " Of course, the law may provide for a threshold less demanding than Barcelona and its 60% of hot water needs, tempered Victor Almagro, but it expresses a strong political will in favor of this type of energy and this always leaves the freedom to each municipality to set its threshold. " 

A non-transposable measure in France

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The autonomy available to the regions in Spain seems to explain the success of the approach, still unprecedented elsewhere in Europe (the ordinance was inspired by a measure proposed in Berlin but which would never have seen the light of day). Is such a decree transposable in France? No, we answer on both sides of the Pyrenees.  "It is forbidden in France to impose on a professional body a decision which would result in a distortion of competition"  explains Fabrice Bordet, development manager at ENERPLAN, Association of professionals in renewable energies, based in the Var. We therefore remain with the incentive in France, with municipalities, communities of municipalities, departments or even regions that are increasing initiatives, financial incentives and information campaigns like the Rhône-Alpes region. where social landlords no longer build without using solar thermal energy. In terms of political will, the recent draft law on energy orientation will provide additional leeway (but still an incentive) for the municipalities, which will be able to "negotiate" the use of solar thermal through occupation of soils revised upwards.

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Sylvie Touboul


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