Solar self-consumption on the rise in Germany

22. July 2013 | Global PV markets, Markets & Trends, Industry & Suppliers | By:  Edgar Meza

Lower feed-in tariffs, high electricity rates and the growing availability of storage systems are making self-consumption a much more attractive option for German solar producers.

Germany SolarWorld

About a third of new German PV homeowners and businesses consume self-generated power themselves.

More and more households and companies in Germany are using solar power for self-consumption by utilizing customized plant sizing, energy management and storage.

Buyers of solar power systems are increasingly interested in consuming a high proportion of self-generated solar electricity themselves. A new survey by the German Solar Industry Association (BSW-Solar) of photovoltaic installers shows that the share of self-generating users has grown among private businesses and households. An increase in electricity costs combined with a significant drop in photovoltaic prices and a sharp decline in solar power subsidies are driving the trend.

On average, about a third of self-generated solar power from newly installed photovoltaic systems is self-consumed by the home or business, according to BSW-Solar.

"Private electricity prices are now almost twice as high as the cost of self-generated solar electricity from the roof of a house," said BSW-Solar CEO Carsten Körnig.

In view of solar electricity generation costs and a feed-in tariff of only about €0.15 per kilowatt hour, electricity rates of €0.27 per kilowatt hour and more, self-consumption is becoming a much more attractive option for solar energy producers of all sizes rather than feeding the energy into the grid.

In optimizing self-consumption rates for clients, 81% of installers focus mainly on the optimal sizing of photovoltaic systems while 57% favor an intelligent energy management to best serve customers’ needs. One out of two installers has already installed solar energy storage system.

In May, Germany’s KfW Development Bank began offering low-interest loans for the installation of a combined photovoltaic and storage system or for retrofitting an existing solar plant with a solar battery. Since the start of the program, KfW has received more than 700 applications. With the help of storage batteries, solar power can be used around the clock.

The trend towards self-consumption is also evident among a growing number of businesses, which are increasingly reducing their electricity bills by utilizing company-owned solar systems.

Businesses with suitable roof surfaces can often reach far higher consumption rates than homes even without the use of storage systems, according to BSW-Solar. Companies that have a higher base load during the day can largely cover their power consumption through the energy output of their solar systems.

The survey also shows that installers are facing increasing requirements. "The planning is challenging and advising potential investors is more complex," said Körnig. Four out of five installers report increased time and effort for the sale of solar systems.


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