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How to install solar panels in a plot of land (Part 1)

In recent years, self-generation of electricity using solar energy has grown enormously in Spain, both for residential and industrial use. This time we will set our sights on the generation of electricity and the sale of that energy to the national grid system. What should I ask myself if I have a plot of land and I want to take advantage of it by installing photovoltaic panels?

There are many considerations to take into account, both when it comes to knowing if our land is suitable to house this type of facility and later when evaluating whether we can have enough generation to make the investment profitable. Next, we will analyse each of these questions step by step.

 

First thing first.

How to know if I can have a connection point to the network?

If we have a farm or a large plot of land and are thinking of exploring the photovoltaic energy sector to get more out of it, the first thing we must evaluate is whether or not our land is suitable to house such an installation. And, for this, we must take into account two factors.

On the one hand there will be the land classification. Land, both in urban and rural settings, are associated to a specific use by the general planning of each municipality. In this sense, the use allocated to each plot of the municipality is assigned. As general uses we can have infrastructures or green areas, for example, and as specific uses it would be considered if they are for residential, industrial, cultural use, etc. For our purposes we will need the land to be qualified for industrial use. If this is so, we can continue with the process.

The boom in self-consumption: global distributed solar energy will triple the Spanish electricity system in five years, according to the IEA

At this point it is also convenient to review the possible conditions that our plot has. With this, we refer to any type of installation or existing infrastructure that may interfere with the activity that we want to propose. The existence of motorway or roads, for example, will limit the available land space for the new activity. The existence of high or medium voltage lines on the ground may technically affect the possibility of installing the panels that we are considering. Also in case we are in a green protected area or where there is a deposit of any kind this may imply the impossibility of carrying out an industrial activity of any nature. In other words, we must be able to assess whether our land is legally free to be able to house a photovoltaic solar installation.

Once we have confirmed these two points, it is time to request the grid connection point from the distribution company that operates in the area where the land is located. The request to obtain a connection point should be issued within 60 working days we must receive a response from the distribution company with the confirmation or denial of the connection point, always duly argued.

In the event that the connection is denied due to limits in the capacity of the existing power line, the company will have a legal obligation to provide an alternative connection point.

In addition, Red Eléctrica de España must issue a favourable Access Feasibility Report (VAT), authorizing the injection of renewable energy into the grid by the photovoltaic plant that is being proposed.

 

What if our land had not been qualified for industrial use?

What would happen then? In this case, the land may be requalified through the corresponding project of “Changing of Use” through the city council, and only in case of having confirmation of the mentioned requalification can we continue with the previously mentioned process. In this sense, when carrying out this procedure, we must generate an activity report in which the local authorities is explained what is going to be done in the land, with the activity that we request to carry out. Here it will be justified that both the installation and the activity will comply with all the requirements that the applicable regulations request.

 How to know if my investment will be profitable.

Once the connection point approval is obtained, it is time to really assess how much energy I can produce on my land and what the profitability of the project will be.

The first step at this point will be to be able to assess the available solar resource in the area where the land is located. For this, numerous tools are available that provide us with data according to specific regions and areas. One of them is the Solar Radiation Atlas provided by the State Meteorological Agency. Another easy-to-use tool that the European Union makes available is PVGIS, in which we will not only be able to see the solar resource in each location, but also allow us to evaluate different situations already applied to the case of using photovoltaic panels.

 

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Al ser imposible conocer en profundidad cada caso, todos los consejos y contestaciones a la preguntas realizadas en este blog, los consejos dados son propiciado en términos generales por lo que se deberá contrastar con el asesoramiento privado de un abogado  y/o un arquitecto para estudiar en profundidad su caso.

As it is impossible to know in detail every case asked in this blog all our replies are given in good faith but we strongly suggest that you obtain private advice from a solicitor /and /or  architect who will be able to study in depth your own particular case.