Photovoltaic boom: Great demand for solar systems

Status: 04/02/2022 15:12

Since Russia’s attack on Ukraine and the sharp increase in energy prices, more and more homeowners want a photovoltaic system for their roof. There are long waiting lists. For whom is the installation worth it?

Yves Leonard is currently installing 36 photovoltaic modules on the roof of a family home in the Nidda Valley in Hesse. This costs the owners around €30,000, including the electricity storage system. Despite the high cost, the demand is high. Friedberg’s solar technology supplier suntec can only accept about a fifth of the orders. Leonard’s colleagues across Germany are no different.

According to a survey by the Appino market research institute in Hamburg, 25 percent of German homeowners want to invest in a photovoltaic system this year. That would be a market of 3.5 million systems, 17.5 times more than in 2021. High demand is one of the reasons why prices for solar modules have increased by around ten percent in a year. Another is supply bottlenecks, caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which has shaken international supply chains.

Profitable with high self-consumption

“Purchase and installation are expensive and maintenance often takes a long time,” says Corinna Kodim, an energy expert at the Haus und Grund homeowners’ association. Is a photovoltaic system financially worth it? Haus und Grund calculated this for a four-person household with an electricity consumption of 4,000 kilowatt hours per year: a photovoltaic system that generates this amount of electricity costs around 15,000 euros with a battery that stores the energy during the time of darkness. . Using the current average electricity price of 40 cents per kilowatt hour as the basis for savings, the system would pay for itself after 15 years. The more electricity is generated and consumed, the faster profitability falls.

This means that systems for homes with a consumption of around 4000 kilowatt hours per year are definitely worth it from a financial point of view. They are all the more profitable the more electrical devices are running, if an electric car is charged in the garage and there is a heat pump in the house. After all, you can only save in the long run if you use the electricity you generate yourself.

Remuneration of solar energy below market value

There are now more than two million photovoltaic systems in operation throughout Germany, most of them on the roofs of private homes. For many years, the most important instrument to promote the expansion of photovoltaic energy was the feed-in tariff under the Renewable Energy Sources Law (EEG). In other words, the guaranteed income per kilowatt hour of solar energy that is fed into the electricity grid. In 2004 it was still 57 cents per kilowatt hour. Therefore, photovoltaics was considered a highly subsidized form of power generation.

That has changed. Meanwhile, the owners of the new systems receive subsidies for the electricity they feed into the grid at six cents less than what it is actually worth in the market. The average price is currently 40 cents per kilowatt hour.

New promotion rules planned

But that is exactly what is about to change again: In January, Economy Minister Robert Habeck presented his plans for the expansion of photovoltaic systems. The green politician announced a photovoltaic “booster” for Easter. The most important innovation: a significant increase in the feed rate. This will more than double to 12.5 cents per kilowatt hour. This will certainly lead to a further boom in private solar systems.

However, some of the waiting lists already go until 2023. Yves Leonard from Friedberg currently has to cancel many. He can choose his clients: he primarily targets owners of single-family homes with high ceilings, whose occupants use a lot of electricity. Terraced or semi-detached houses are less lucrative for him; such requests have little chance of success.

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