Germany’s untapped potential for balcony PV panels
In the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, a balcony module, with an upfront investment of €350 to €500, can provide electricity with a current value of €54 per year. The payback period ranges from six to nine years.
Germany's richest and most dynamic state, North Rhine-Westphalia, offers great potential for balcony solar modules that feed the electricity generated directly into the residential network via sockets. According to estimates by the North Rhine-Westphalia consumer association (VZ NRW), it is possible to install more than a million modules of this kind across the region. A similar amount of panels would be enough to produce 290 gigawatt hours of electricity per year. In its calculation, the consumer association considered exclusively those buildings that are not suitable for a rooftop PV system.
Furthermore, the VZ NRW claimed that a balcony module, with an upfront investment of €350 to €500, can provide electricity with a current value of €54 per year, provided it is installed on a south facade under optimal conditions. That results in a payback period of six to nine years. The prerequisite for this, however, is that the electricity is used entirely by the user.
In order to check how the distribution network operators handle the balcony modules, VZ NRW carried out a survey among local distributors. “Overall, we are seeing a growing openness to this kind of solution among network operators,” said VZ NRW CEO Wolfgang Schuldzinski. “But we also see that some of the companies still require very complex documents for the mandatory registration of plug-in solar devices, which are actually intended for large roof systems. Or they try to charge a meter exchange fee.”
Regional Environment and Consumer Protection Minister Ursula Heinen-Esser considers balcony modules an interesting technology. “For the many tenants in North Rhine-Westphalia in particular, plug-in photovoltaics are a great way to lower their own electricity bills and at the same time relieve the climate. Many tenant households can – with the consent of the landlord – simply take the initiative and ensure a clean energy future directly from the balcony,” she said.
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