3.7.1 The motivation behind ”Solar panels installed”

This entry relates to this post on untappedenergy.org.

In Germany there has been a federal law (The “Stromeinspeisungsgesetz”) since December 1990 that regulates how the utilities buy back renewable energy from their customers. This law combined with low interest loans for installing solar energy has made Germany a leader in private solar installations. Good federal legislations is key to the proliferation of private renewable energy installations.

The act of producing power at home has been available to the regular, but interested customer, for a while. Usually the system would consist of a generator and one of three options:

  1. Immediate use of the produced electricity
    • Cheap to install and operate
    • Limited to applications proportional to energy production
  2. A battery to store produced energy
    • Independent of infrastructure
    • Expensive and bulky batteries required
  3. An inverter that lets you make the generator a part of the main grid
    • Needs no batteries and easy to operate
    • Legislation, incentives and technology required

The first option is impractical, but for a vent fan that should operate only on a warm sunny day, this option is fine. The more common solution is to store energy in a battery for use when it is not sunny or at the times where you need more that the current production allows. The most elegant solution, that is common in places where the government gives incentives like 4:1 ratio on production price versus consumption price, is to send electricity back to the grid, when it is produced. In this option the grid acts as a battery. Currently this requires special equipment to be installed and legislation needs to be in place and the local utility must have an electricity grid that can manage to get ectricity the other way.

This visualisation suggests how simple it should be:

  1. Install the solar panel on a wall that faces the sun for the better part of the day
  2. Plug it in to the inlet for sending current into the grid

The choice of a regular living room with access to a balcony or similar would be available for a large demographic in cities in Europe. The illustrations suggests that this hardware part, that require some work by the customer, is not necessary complicated when the right technology is implemented in your home.

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