Do I need a permit to install solar panels in Spain?

Do I need a permit to install solar panels in Spain?
On October 10th 2021 the autonomous community of Madrid became the latest region to scrap planning permission from its requirements for installing solar panels. Photo by Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP
Which Spanish regions do not require a building permit from people who want to install solar panels at home? And what other paperwork has to be factored in?

With huge spikes in electricity prices, more and more Spaniards are considering installing solar panels in their homes to save money, or simply to switch to greener electricity.

While the process is getting easier, you may still have to get past a few administrative hurdles such as getting planning permission. Here’s what you need to know.

For a long time, installing solar panels in private homes was made excruciatingly difficult due to what was known as ‘the sun tax’, as well as the various administrative procedures it required.

Luckily, the controversial law was scrapped in 2019 and other measures were introduced to make energy self-sufficiency easier, but some administrative requirements, like getting planning permission from a local authority, continue to make the process difficult.

Where do you no longer have to request planning permission?

Whether or not you can skip this step depends on where you live.

Rules vary across Spain’s comunidades autónomas (autonomous regions). Many of them no longer require you to get planning permission in order to facilitate the process of installing solar panels and encourage people to switch to renewables.

On Sunday October 10th 2021, Madrid became the latest region to scrap this bureaucratic step from its requirements for installing solar panels.

READ ALSO: What you should know before getting solar panels for your home in Spain

Communities no longer requiring planning permission: Community of Madrid, Andalucía, Aragón, Catalonia, Castilla y León, Castilla-La Mancha, Valencian Community, Extremadura, Galicia, Balearic Islands, Canary Islands, Navarre.

Communities that still require planning permission: Asturias, Cantabria, Basque Country, La Rioja, Murcia.

In these five regions where a building permit is still required for the installation of solar panels at home, residents face a harder uphill battle to become self-sufficient.

For starters, it takes on average three months to get a licencia de obras (building permit) in Spain, and it isn’t just a case of requesting it; applicants often need to provide plenty of paperwork to obtain it.  

However, people with property in regions where building permits aren’t required still have to check with their local authorities if they require any of the following documentation to install solar panels at home:

  • Diseño del sistema de la instalación (plan of the installation system), including for small installations for personal use.
  • Permiso de acceso y conexión (Access and connection permit) if the installation is carried out outside of the municipality or when they exceed 15kWh.
  • Autorización administrativa previa y de construcción (Previous planning authorisation): This is compulsory for larger photovoltaic installations.
  • Autorización ambiental y de utilidad pública (Environmental and public utility authorisation). The corresponding authority should be consulted as this procedure is not usually necessary for installations under 100kWp.
  • Certificado de fin de obra (End of construction work certificate).
  • Autorización de explotación (authorisation of use), except for installations under 10 kW.
  • Inspección inicial e inspecciones periódicas (Initial and periodic inspections).
  • Registro de la instalación de autoconsumo en la Consejería de Industria autonómica (Registration for self-consumption installation in the Regional Ministry of Industry.
  • Contrato de acceso para la instalación de autoconsumo (Contract for access self-consumption installation).
  • Contrato de suministro de energía para servicios auxiliaries (Energy supply contract for auxiliary services).
  • Contrato de compensación de excedentes (Contract for compensation of surplus energy).
  • Contrato de representación (representation contract).
  • Licencia de obra e impuestos (ICIO y tasa urbanística). In some cases this consists of simply notifying your town hall, especially if the solar panels are low power.

Always make sure to double check the paperwork you need with your local Ayuntamiento and also with your comunidad de vecinos if you live in a housing community with a Body Corporate. 

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