Skip to contents
Experts and knowledge

PREE 5000: Energy renovation comes to municipalities with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants.

The chance to halt the depopulation of rural areas and economically revitalise towns with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants.
PREE 5000
Experts and knowledge
Content type
Written by
Reading time
8 minutes
21 Apr 2022
It is one of Spain's great challenges: curbing rural population decline and economically regenerating villages with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants. European funds are already making it possible to renew the real estate stock of both private individuals and companies. PREE 5000 provides for direct subsidies covering up to three quarters of the cost of works such as thermal insulation, improved lighting, installation of solar panels and more efficient heating, hot water and cooling systems.

The Energy Rehabilitation Programme for Buildings in Municipalities of the Demographic Challenge (PREE 5000) is provisioned with 50 million euros. Non-repayable subsidies are for private dwellings as well as for homeowners' associations and all types of public and private buildings, whether owned by individuals or legal entities.

Energy efficiency projects and the universalisation of renewables not only reduce consumption, but also strengthen Spain's energy autonomy and considerably reduce CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.

The National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan 2021-2030 had already set a target of rehabilitating 1.2 million dwellings in terms of energy efficiency. This plan is now receiving a boost from European funds, through the PREE and, specifically, the PREE 5000, which focuses on regions most affected by depopulation.

PREE 5000

A plan to revamp the architecture of Empty Spain

To stabilise the population and reactivate economic activity in rural areas that suffer from demographic decline. Such is the ultimate purpose of the PREE 5000. Small municipalities have a building typology that is more outdated in energy terms than in cities, with 30% of the building stock dating back to before 1960. 44% of these dwellings are second homes and empty, a quarter of which are either in a dilapidated state or at least in a poor state of repair.

It is a catch-22 situation and is part of the landscape that we see when travelling through depopulated areas: homes and businesses that have been abandoned due to the population migrating to urban centres and that are hard to bring back to life because of waterproofing issues and antiquated heating, lighting and hot water systems.

Why is it so important to take action regarding the Spanish real estate stock on the path towards the energy transition?

  • Buildings account for 30% of the energy consumed in Spain.
  • They are responsible for 40% of greenhouse gas emissions.

We are talking about 6,827 municipalities with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants and where a combined total of 5.7 million people live. This is 12% of the total population of Spain.

Many of these towns have suffered from severe depopulation and their population only increases during the summer months or, as in the case of the last two years, as a result of the remote working phenomenon. This is what is known as the “floating population” and is one of the pending issues in the National Demographic Challenge Strategy: the lack of basic facilities and services when these temporary peaks of visitors occur.

According to official data, 8 out of 10 municipalities in Spain with a population of under 5,000 have lost inhabitants since 2010. In other words, 410,000 fewer people than a decade ago.

For instance, which towns have a population of under 5,000?

To give us an idea, we could mention well-known towns such as Garachico (Tenerife), Cadaqués (Girona), Sigüenza (Guadalajara), Fisterra (A Coruña), Lanjarón (Granada), La Alberca (Salamanca), Potes (Cantabria) or Albarracín (Teruel).

Sergio del Molino coined the concept of Empty Spain in 2016 in an essay by the same name, which highlighted the reality of the regions that had become isolated as a result of migration to the cities.

How PREE 5000 works

The Energy Rehabilitation Programme for Existing Buildings in Municipalities of the Demographic Challenge (PREE 5000) begins with an initial budget of 50 million euros. It is an extension of earlier energy rehabilitation plans for the Spanish housing stock: programmes such as PAREER-CRECE and PAREER II which allowed for the renovation of 80,000 dwellings between 2013 and 2018. Or the EERP of 4 August 2020, which was allocated 300 million euros and later increased to 402.5 million euros.

How does the PREE 5000 work?

The Institute for the Diversification and Saving of Energy (IDAE) and the Superior Council of Colleges of Architects of Spain (CSCAE) have just re-edited the Practical Guide for the Management of Building Energy Rehabilitation Subsidies to adapt it to the new context of European subsidies and the PREE 5000 programme.

PREE 5000 is included in Component 2 (Urban Agenda and Housing Rehabilitation and Urban Regeneration Plan) of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan financed through European Next Generation funds. Specifically section l04.

It was approved on 3 August 2021 by the Council of Ministers under Royal Decree 691/2021, and is coordinated by the IDEA and is convened and managed by the Regional Governments. There is a significant increase in general EERP subsidies. Here are its main points:

How does the PREE 5000 work
  • The aim is to support the energy rehabilitation of 50,000 dwellings and buildings in which the consumption of non-renewable energy is reduced by at least 30%.
  • The initial budget amounts to 50 million euros, which, as in the case of other programmes, could be increased depending on demand.
  • The deadline is extended until 31 December 2023.
  • This programme is intended for both private homes and businesses, for any public or private property in need of upgrading, and for both individuals and legal entities. It expressly includes tenants, operators and concessionaires of buildings.
  • Homeowners' associations and local energy communities (neighbourhoods, blocks or other collectives sharing renewable energy, e.g. solar photovoltaic infrastructure) are also eligible.

The programme benefits two types of municipalities:

  • Those with a population of up to 5,000 inhabitants. Included on the Demographic Challenge map.
  • Those with a population of up to 20,000 inhabitants, but whose individual population centres - e.g. parishes - do not exceed 5,000 inhabitants.

The aid is divided into three large blocks: insulation, renewable energies and efficient lighting.

  • Type 1: Thermal insulation

    Actions to improve insulation, exterior carpentry, glazing, air chambers and even adjacent elements such as greenhouses. Direct subsidies will be 50% for complete buildings and 40% for individual dwellings or premises, plus additional percentages of up to 25% more, depending on the energy savings achieved, the specific social criteria of the beneficiary or if it is an integrated action.

  • Type 2: Energy efficiency improvements and substitution of conventional energies by renewable energies

    Heating, air conditioning, refrigeration, ventilation and hot water systems. We are talking about photovoltaic solar installations, geothermal, hydrothermal and aerothermal energy, heat pumps and biomass. The subsidy covers from 40% for complete buildings and 30% for individual dwellings or premises, plus other additional percentages depending on the energy savings achieved, the social nature of the action or if it is presented as part of an integrated project.

  • Type 3: Change of lighting system

    For more efficient technologies. The subsidies reach 20% for all types of properties, although they also increase based on variables such as savings achieved in consumption.

Integrated projects, which are incentivised with significant additional aid, refer to applications that combine two or more types. It is essential that one of them is number 1, with a thermal envelope, and that it achieves a reduction in energy consumption of at least 30%. The criterion for verifying this reduction is the building energy certificate. It that document does not exist, alternative measurements may be presented.

When can applications be submitted?

Until 31 December 2023.

How long does it take to be granted or refused?

Six months from the date of application.

What is the deadline for the execution of the works?

Eighteen months from the granting of the aid, although an extension of a further six months may be requested.