While the Covid-19 crisis keeps us housebound and we move social lives, schooling and business online, the pandemic is also demonstrating the value of using more sophisticated and flexible technology and contactless services. Touted as a world first, an online platform launched in Lithuania is offering people the chance to purchase remote solar panels instead of having them installed on their rooftop.
The company behind the project, Sun Investment Group, said the Solar Community online platform was launched in response to changing consumer needs and rising demand for solar energy. “The world is eager to contribute to clean energy generation and switch to solar energy,” said Sun Investment Group CEO Deividas Varabauskas. “But eagerness is not enough – at this point we have to act quickly and come up with more efficient solutions.”
Solar Community is available across Lithuania and offers the chance to buy cheap energy generated by PV panels elsewhere. The platform offers 1-10 kW of generation capacity and feeds solar electricity into the grid to meet the needs of the platform’s users.
The right fit
Chief executive Varabauskas said Lithuania was a suitable market for the platform because the nation recently passed legislation mandating the right to generate and use electricity from remote solar power plants. Homeowners and companies can get financial help to buy remote solar panels after the Energy Ministry opened a support scheme enabling users to apply for one-off grants of €323 per kilowatt of PV generation capacity they invest in.
The Baltic nation is heavily dependent on power imports and its 2050 energy independence plan foresees the large scale deployment of renewables. Last year, after the European Commission approved the country’s €385 million clean energy auction plan, the Lithuanian government said annual technology-agnostic auctions would be held and the projects selected awarded 12-year feed-in premium payments to top up the wholesale electricity price.
Lithuania had 832 MW of renewables generation capacity in 2018, of which 86 MW was solar. The country’s regulatory framework supports residential and commercial systems through net metering. Solar Community hopes to speed the nation’s transition to renewables while offering savings to consumers.
Easier and quicker
“Companies are discouraged from building solar panels in their property as it’s expensive to build, takes a long time to get permissions for building it and there is a lack of solar energy auction quotas,” said Varabauskas. “Until now, in Lithuania, only a few companies and individual users had enough resources to build solar panels but the new platform would open the doors for people living in shared premises and for companies with fewer resources.”
Similar remote-purchasing efforts have been seen before. German carmaker Audi, for instance, recently introduced a subscription-based platform where buyers of its e-tron electric vehicles can purchase power from solar farms in remote locations across the U.S. to power them.