Barcelona School, Residents Establish Solar Community

Barcelona has teamed up with a secondary school and a residents’ association to build a solar energy community that can spread across broad portions of the city, rooftop by rooftop.

Rooftop solar panels at Poblenou’s Quatre Cantons Secondary School provide electricity to the school and 30 nearby families.

For every 500 watts of electricity used, every household receives a 25 percent discount on their electricity bill.

Speaking on behalf of the citizens’ organization and the Quatre Cantons school, Marike Charlier said the idea was first floated in 2019 and has since taken shape.

Teacher César Ochoa, a sustainability committee member who teaches math at this particular high school, said the school’s desire to reduce energy use aligns with residents’ plans. As a result, the council agreed to foot the $96,000 (€94,000) bill associated with putting solar panels on the school’s roof.

Barcelona Energia, the city’s council-run power provider, now serves the 30 families previously served by Endesa, which has been sluggish in relinquishing the connection.

It is estimated that the school will receive 30% of all electricity generated once it is fully functioning, according to Ochoa. Therefore, some of its demands will be met, although it is only a pilot experiment. This energy will be available to everyone who needs it throughout the school holidays.”

After imposing a “sunshine tax” on private users or energy communities, which the big power companies said was unfair competition, the previous conservative administration in Spain saw a fall in solar power.

Current government policies have removed taxes on solar installations, leading to an increase of localized rooftop installations, such as Quatre Cantons, rather than massive solar farms far from densely populated areas.

Spain produced roughly 46% of its energy from renewable sources last year, although solar (1,8%) still trails wind (23%) and hydroelectric (11.4 percent ).

Although solar installations in Spain are limited to a 500-meter radius by law (in France and Portugal, the limit is 2 kilometers), Charlier says the plan has always been to extend the array’s reach beyond that distance.

Additionally, she points out that Quatre Cantons is only 500 meters (1,640 feet) away from 11 other public buildings. Therefore, additional installations may greatly expand the system’s capacity and enable it to be used throughout the surrounding area.

Until 2030, the municipal council aims to boost public and private sector solar power by five times.

The councilor for climate change and ecological transition, Eloi Badia, adds, “These energy communities are truly remarkable, and they make it possible to identify solutions that would not otherwise be practical.” Everyone in Barcelona should have solar panels on their roofs as a final solution.

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