German PV group Conergy has hit the 1 MW mark in Spain with competitive, non-subsidized grid parity projects.
Conergy broke new ground last year by realizing its first such power plant on the roof of Barcelonas beachfront restaurant Lasal del Varador.
The restaurants owners, who consume the entire electricity produced by the rooftop plant themselves, managed to cut their electricity costs by around a fifth. Conergys plant on Lasal del Varador is one of the finalist projects at the upcoming Intersolar Award Ceremony in Munich, part of the Intersolar Europe trade fair, which runs June 19-21.
Since that pilot project, Conergy has installed in collaboration with partners a further 56 such plants with a total capacity of approximately 1 MW. Producing some 1,450 MWh a year, they supply about 420 households with non-subsidized solar power.
The Hamburg-based PV solution and service provider has also developed business models for grid parity markets in Australia, the U.S. and South Africa.
"With its numerous solar plants worldwide, which are profitable even without subsidies, Conergy has been charting a new course," said Luis Jiménez Gutierrez, managing director of Conergy Spain. "The message is clear: solar pays, now more than ever. Although the Spanish market has lately seen a downturn due to the end of the feed-in tariffs, Conergy has been able to expand its market share considerably thanks to its business models for the grid parity market of the future."
Conergy attributes the growing success of its model to custom approach. Only the company determines how much electricity a plant operator requires at different times of the day, it can tailor the plant precisely to the customer requirements and determine the plant size on the basis of the minimum load.
The size of Conergy grid parity plants therefore varies depending on the daily electricity requirements. Around half the plants have a capacity of up to 10 kWp, roughly a quarter up to 25 kW and a further quarter a total capacity of between 25 kW and 100 kW.
Conergy is expanding its non-subsidized grid parity projects internationally. Last year the company greenlit the development of tailor-made business models in grid parity markets that will help private consumers and businesses become more independent from electricity price hikes.
Conergy has since built plants for a welfare institution in South Africa, a nursing home in Australia and for several schools in the U.S., with further plants to follow.
In Germany, Conergy has started to offer a service for certified partners to optimize commercial plants by using load profiles to determine the energy requirements and the optimum configuration of each plant both in technical and financial terms. The aim is to achieve the best possible balance of self-consumption and level of autarky, or self-sufficiency, in order to maximize electricity cost savings.
By contrast, in the U.S., net metering and time of use billing play a large role, allowing the amounts of power consumed on site, fed into the grid and drawn from the grid, to be offset against one another. With net metering, the electricity meter runs backwards for every kilowatt hour of electricity fed into the grid and then runs forwards again when power is drawn from the grid.
Time of use billing is similar but operates on the basis of actual electricity costs at different times of the day rather than all kilowatt hours being the same. In line with the principle of supply and demand, electricity tariffs are defined for different periods of the day in this model so that the value at which the electricity meter runs backwards is substantially higher during peak load periods, while the meter will actually run forward during cheaper off-peak periods.