In Germany, solar panels flourish on balconies

In Germany, solar panels flourish on balconies

Brandenburg (Germany), report

On Ingeborg Attar’s south-facing balcony, the planters have a new companion: We fixed a solar panel outside the railing. », describes the retiree. Plugged into the balcony socket, the module converts sunlight into electricity and feeds it directly into the apartment network. With a power of 300 watts, it should cover a large part of your basic consumption, from the refrigerator to the internet box, going through all the devices in standby. To make the most of it, Ingeborg changes her habits: Now I use the washing machine and dishwasher preferably during the day when the sun is shining. »she says.

At 77, Ingeborg lives with her dog in a 46m flattwo of a recent building in Neuenhagen, a small town in the eastern state of Brandenburg. He pays 37 euros per month for electricity, but he fears that his bill will skyrocket ; In Germany, the price of electricity has risen by 70 % on average in a year. Thanks to its photovoltaic panel purchased for 600 euros, Ingeborg hopes to save a fifth of its consumption, while at the same time participating in the fight against global warming. On your smartphone, you will soon be able to follow the production of your module live. For me, these little signs are the future. »gets excited.

At least 500,000 people would have small solar panels. © Sebastian Müller

Ingeborg is not the only one who thinks like this on the other side of the Rhine. Without the need to call an electrician, without long administrative procedures: the simplicity of these self-consumption solar kits, to be assembled by oneself, attracts more than environmentalists. By the end of 2021, 190,000 homes had already been equipped, according to a study by the Berlin University of Applied Sciences.

The Russian invasion in Ukraine and the energy crisis have accelerated the movement: there are already 500,000, according to the platform that aggregates seller data. It would be even more so if companies could keep up with the demand.says Christian Ofenheusle, director of the site. But between semiconductor shortages and disruption to supply chains, stocks are running out very quickly. » In fact, most modules are made in China.

Significant household savings »

In his office of the consumer association Verbraucherzentrale in Brandenburg, Joshua Jahn recommends the purchase to all those who cannot install higher power photovoltaics on their roof »for economic reasons or because they are renters — like 58 % Germans. If the balcony is well oriented, without shadows, and if the panel has the proper inclination, it allows significant savings for the homeassures the expert. It is much more worthwhile if you are at home during the day, teleworking, for example. »

According to him, the purchase is amortized in five or eight years. With two modules, at the current price of electricity, you can save 240 euros a year », calculate. The current that is not used immediately – or stored in the battery – goes to the local network: however, it is not remunerated, unlike larger installations.

This module will soon equip the balcony of a medical practice in Potsdam (Brandenburg).

According to a Verbraucherzentrale study published in 2020, 1 million mini-solar panels in operation could replace the equivalent of a coal-fired power plant’s output. Although small, it is worth taking advantage of the contribution of balcony solar energy to the energy transitionJudge Joshua Jahn. In addition, this has positive effects in terms of the acceptance of photovoltaics in general: it is talked about among neighbors. This is particularly important in a traditionally coal-mining region like Brandenburg. »

In the first half of 2022, renewable energies accounted for 48.5 % of the German electricity mix, compared to 45.5 % for fossil fuels, according to the Federal Statistical Office. Photovoltaics is at the heart of the country’s strategy, with the goal of 200 G.W. installed in 2030, compared to 100 G.W. in France in 2050.

Everyone has the power to produce energy. »

In the courtyard of a business incubator in Berlin, the capital, Lisa Wendzich and Bryce Felmingham unpack some modules with their inverters and electrical cables. They entered the market last spring offering, in addition to sales, informative workshops and the composition of custom kits. I think that the success of balcony solar is due in particular to the fact that it is democratic: everyone has the power to produce energy.says Lisa Wendzich, director of the SunCrafter company. The Germans identify a lot with this, they are more than convinced. »

Eckart and his son Kilian bought two modules to put in the garden of their house, here arguing with Lisa Wendzich of the SunCrafter company.

This September afternoon, ten people made the trip ; half are left with one or even two solar panels. Everyone says it: the click, they had it with the Russian invasion in Ukraine. We took advantage of cheap energy for years, without realizing that we were dependentexplains Alexander, who plans to offer a module to his father for his birthday. It is Putin’s gas, but not only: for other fossil fuels, coal, oil, it is the same. We depend on countries that do not share the same values ​​as us. »

Nicole and Andreas, a couple of owners, see the solar balcony as a first step ». If it works out for us, we will invest in a larger installation on the roof »Nicole assures. Is it a fad or a basic trend? ? More and more municipalities are reimbursing the purchase of the modules in any case. In Heidelberg, in the southwest, modest households can receive up to 1,450 euros. In northern Germany, the federal state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania will release 10 million euros from mid-October to help people equip themselves.

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