24 Feb 2023, 13:03
Carolina Kyllmann

Engineer association calls for removing regulatory hurdles to Germany's ‘balcony power plants’

Handelsblatt / Clean Energy Wire

The installation of plug-in balcony solar photovoltaic (PV) units – also known as balcony power plants – should be facilitated and regulatory hurdles that stand in the way of their expansion should be removed, the electrical engineering association VDE said in a position paper seen by Hadelsblatt. The VDE, which is responsible for the standardisation of electrotechnical devices, proposed allowing units with an output of up to 800 watts to be connected to the home’s grid, compared to the current 600 watt limit. Additionally, the VDE no longer wants to insist on using a specialised socket when connecting the devices to the domestic power grid, as these have to be installed by professionals and cost extra money. Instead, conventional sockets should also be allowed. In future, any type of electricity meter should also be allowed and registration forms should be simplified, according to the position paper.

Consumer advice centres have warned that the position paper is still just a proposal, and to be wary of manufacturers already advertising installations based on the proposed changes, reports Hadelsblatt. “Laws and regulations still have to be adapted before the changes actually apply. That could still take months,” Jörg Sutter, photovoltaics expert at the North Rhine-Westphalia consumer advice centre, told the newspaper. The city of Berlin recently introduced a seven million euro subsidy programme for households wanting to install a balcony power plant in a bid to “significantly increase the share of solar power.”

Balcony solar power plants are an effective way to generate electricity in a decentralised way, cushion rising electricity prices and reduce your own climate footprint, according to NGO Environmental Action Germany (DUH). The NGO recently stated that if plug-in solar devices were installed in all homes in Germany, these could generate electricity equivalent to the output of a large lignite-fired power plant and save over 50 million tonnes of CO2 by 2030.

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