house with self-consumption

What is self-consumption and what benefits does it have?

The generated energy we consume at home

In the energy field, self-consumption is based on the self-generation of electricity through the installation of any type of electrical generators based on renewable energy sources. Spain's law 24/2013 on the Electric Sector, in article 9, defines electrical self-consumption as "the consumption by one or several consumers of electricity coming from generation facilities close to those of consumption and associated to consumers."


What is energy self-consumption?

Electrical self-consumption allows any person or company to produce and consume their own electricity by installing solar panels or other renewable generation systems in their home, property, or community.

This modality of self-consumption, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere and improving energy efficiency, promotes the use of renewable energies, essential for a just and inclusive energy transition in line with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.

A self-consumption facility is made up of one or several generation infrastructures and associated consumers, building a unit that is administratively identified as a Self-consumption code (CAU). The generating plant can be configured with any renewable technology for electricity generation, such as solar, wind, hydro, renewable cogeneration, or biomass electricity. Consumers are connected to the associated generating facility either directly (what is called connection to the internal network or through direct lines), or by using the distribution or transmission grid (known as grid connection).

This energy system allows us the immediate use all the production of its generation facilities, purchase, if necessary, from the grid, or store the "surplus" for later consumption or sale.

Benefits of self-consumption

Self-consumption generates very positive effects on the economy, electrical system, environment, and consumers:

  1. It promotes the electrification of the economy and value generation: Self-consumption is a key tool for advancing the decarbonization of the economy due to its capacity to electrify consumption through 100% renewable generation sources. Furthermore, it's a distributed generation activity that takes place in the vicinity of the consumers, thus promoting economic activity and the creation of local employment.
  2. It improves the energy efficiency of the electrical system: Its distributed nature contributes to reducing energy losses in grids and also reduces the need to develop new infrastructures.
  3. It facilitates the achievement of environmental goals and the fight against climate change: The self-consumption of renewable energy helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The production infrastructure is also installed in areas already modified by humans (such as cities or inhabited rural areas), so its environmental impact is minimal. Moreover, the deployment of self-consumption accelerates the pace of renewables installation, as it facilitates the participation of all social agents such as households, SMEs, and administrations.
  4. It promotes sustainable energy consumption: Thanks to the monitoring of its installation, consumers can know their energy production and consumption at all times. Lastly, this modality allows citizens in general to participate in the energy system in line with the Sustainable Development Goals

Types of self-consumption

These are the main self-consumption options to generate renewable energy:

girl standing beside solar panels

Solar self-consumption

Solar panels are used in the self-consumption of solar energy. It is an installation that produces electrical energy using photovoltaic modules, capable of transforming solar radiation directly into electricity.

Solar panels contain photovoltaic cells that when they receive direct light, they ionize and release electrons that interact with each other and generate an electrical current.

In recent years, agrivoltaics has been gaining special relevance, a consumption modality based on using the same surface area to install solar panels and produce agricultural or livestock goods. This innovative formula favors distributed generation and self-consumption, as the electricity generated can be used for the needs of the farms themselves, reducing their energy dependence and associated costs.

wind turbine and solar panels

Micro-wind energy

Micro-wind energy is harnessed through wind turbines with power lower than 100 KW.

They are small-scale structures that are usually used in isolated areas and far from the power grid, such as country houses, nature reserves, or alpine refuges. These installations can be contemplated by solar energy, resulting in wind-solar hybrid systems.

wood pellets beside a fire

Bioenergy from solid raw materials

The combustion of solid biomass is one of the most consolidated applications to produce energy. Bioenergy can be produced from forestry and agricultural waste, such as firewood or straw, in both domestic and industrial applications.

An example is wood pellets, which are small cylinders made from forestry and wood industry waste. Their cleanliness, easy handling, cost-effectiveness, and high efficiency make them a reliable alternative to firewood for heaters and boilers.

Examples of current solar self-consumption

The private sector is a key lever to promote actions that accelerate a just and inclusive energy transition, such as, for example, shared self-consumption. In this regard, Repsol has launched a Strategic Plan that is committed to renewable energies, the reduction of the carbon footprint, and self-consumption to cover society's energy needs. Among the solar self-consumption projects, the following stand out:

  • Solmatch:

Solmatch is Repsol's commitment to the distributed generation, or decentralized generation, of solar energy in our country, a self-consumption solution as a service. In Repsol's solar communities, energy is generated from solar panels installed on the building's roofs (roof owners) so that homes (connected customers) located a maximum of 2,000 meters away can connect and enjoy 100% renewable local energy without making any investment.

  • Solar360: 

Repsol has joined up with Telefónica to launch Solar360, an innovative proposal to offer comprehensive solar self-consumption solutions to private customers, homeowners' associations, and companies, through the installation of solar panels. The service includes a mobile application to control the installation and optimize the energy expenditure. Furthermore, the design and financing are adapted to the needs of each consumer's profile.

  • Agrivoltaics projects: 

Spain has the ideal environment for implementing agrivoltaics given its expansive farming land and climate, with nearly 2,500 hours of sunlight per year. Agrivoltaics is the optimal solution for increasing the efficiency of many cultivated lands in our country, while 100% renewable solar energy is generated. An example is the initiative that Repsol has launched together with the technology company PowerfulTree at the San Gabriel Enology School vineyards. The installation, located in Aranda del Duero, is the pilot project to demonstrate the effectiveness of this type of energy and its benefits for the primary sector.

Regulated self-consumption modalities

The European Union's objective is to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, in compliance with the Paris Agreement adopted in December 2015. In pursuit of this goal, the European Green Pact, approved in December 2019, laid out a roadmap to achieve a sustainable economy in the European Union that's aligned with the goals of the UN's 2030 Agenda. This initiative's Goal 7: "Affordable and clean energy" considers that distributed generation is one of the lines of transformation through which the energy transition will become a reality.

As for the Spanish regulatory framework, Royal Decree 244/2019, which regulates the administrative, technical, and economic conditions for energy self-consumption, recognizes the right to collective self-consumption that places the consumer at the center of the system and provides cities – drivers of the energy transition – with greater possibilities for autonomy, development, and sufficiency. Moreover, it allows the development of individual, collective, and proximity self-consumption, while recognizing the compensation of surpluses and simplifying administrative procedures.