Solar panels are one of the best renewable energy options in the domestic and business sectors. In fact, nowadays it is also quite common to see photovoltaic installations in rural areas, such as agricultural and livestock farms, as well as public buildings, industrial warehouses, isolated farms, villas, and single-family houses.
But what about blocks of flats, what are the options in these cases, and is it possible to install solar panels on a communal roof?
Shared self-consumption: what RD 244/2019 and the Horizontal Property Law say
Although domestic energy self-consumption is becoming more and more widespread, this system is normally used in single family homes, which account for almost 34% of Spanish households.
In the case of communities, this issue continues to cause a fair amount of controversy, especially because solar panel installation affects a common element such as a roof or roof terrace.
The Royal Decree 244/2019, which governs the administrative, technical and economic requirements for electricity self-consumption, has been a turning point and is the first step towards enabling neighbourhood communities to generate and use their own energy.
However, it’s often the case that practical issues somewhat overshadow this legal framework. Besides, not all roofs, rooftops, or terraces are suitable for installing solar panels.
Under what circumstances can we install shared-use solar panels?
In this respect, the current legislation provides three frameworks for a shared self-consumption of photovoltaic energy with our neighbours:
- Sharing the same residential building and installing the solar panels on the building’s common roof or roof terrace.
- Installing the photovoltaic system on a building next to ours, within a radius of 500 metres.
- Sharing 14 numbers of the property register reference number.
However, installing panels on a communal roof can be a complex process. Although any neighbour can apply for it, one third of the owners must vote in favour of the installation on the common roof, as established in article 17.1 of Law 49/160 of 21 July, on horizontal property.
If the proposal is approved at the meeting by one-third of the owners, then the neighbours who do not want to be part of the collective installation are not obliged to be involved financially, or in any other way, in the maintenance of the installation, although they won’t benefit from the electricity obtained either.
Prior approval is essential in order to know how many neighbours would like to participate in the community photovoltaic installation, before contacting an installation company such as My Green House.
Incentives to install solar panels on community roofs
In 2020, UNEF (The Spanish Photovoltaic Union) made some recommendations to facilitate the installation of solar panels on community roofs. Among them, the following stand out:
- Eliminate the need for prior approval by the Board of Owners for photovoltaic installations for terraces for exclusive private use.
- Grant the status of “private asset” to the photovoltaic installation if self-consumption is limited only to homes, and of “community asset” if self-consumption is limited exclusively to communal areas.
- Facilitate the shared and proportional payment of the costs of the photovoltaic installation between all the owners and the Community itself.
- Facilitate the possibility of new participants joining the collective self-consumption system by paying the corresponding proportional share to the private group.
Furthermore, some autonomous communities promote the installation of solar panels in neighbouring communities through financial aid. In the case of the Valencian Community, this subsidy can be as much as 45%, with a maximum subsidy of €100,000.
The benefits of installing solar panels on a community roof
Installing solar panels on a communal or community roof is a good option to benefit from the advantages of self-consumption without making a large investment. With an installation of this type, the costs of infrastructure and materials are practically halved.
In addition, the energy that is not used by the homes or common areas can be sent to the grid to obtain an extra monetary compensation that can be used to pay for services such as community cleaning or lift maintenance.
Furthermore, installations such as these can be very versatile, and it is even possible for each neighbour to have their own panel, converter and meter. This option would be equivalent to installing several individual photovoltaic installations together.
Here at MyGreenHouse, we carry out all types of photovoltaic projects. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.