In the face of the energy crisis, the government is working intensively to find solutions. A simplified infrastructure for the tenant’s on-site solar energy would point the way to an energy transition that will reduce costs and relieve the grid. Comment.
At the beginning of July, the Bundestag passed the Act on Renewable Energy Sources (EEG) 2023. The ambitions are high – 80 percent by 2030. Germany’s electricity supply is to come from renewable sources. As electricity consumption increases through sector coupling, this means that at least twice as much electricity needs to be covered from renewable energy sources. Because in 2021, according to the Federal Environment Agency, this percentage was almost 41 percent. In order to be supplied with electricity around the clock, we must do everything we can to significantly expand decentralized and intelligent energy supply options. Most of the changes in the law are positive, but there is no renewal of the overall concept, especially in the area of construction energy, which in the long run is conducive to the energy transformation. There is a risk that we have set new, beautiful goals on paper, which are still a long way off.
The potential of the energy transformation lies in the existing building
The government now needs to think a step further. To achieve the climate goals, it is not enough to reform the subsidy rate in the EEG, instead fundamental changes to building standards and energy accounting are needed. The Building Energy Act (GEG) currently only applies to some new buildings and the renovation of old buildings. However, the potential for a scalable energy transition lies in the broad existing segment. According to the construction report DENA 2022, Germany today has three million residential buildings. According to the main market register, for 2022, less than one percent of this will be powered by electricity from a photovoltaic installation on the roof.
Despite increased PV commitments, the roofing potential is not exhausted, bureaucratic processes and complexities in implementation unnecessarily complicate implementation – according to the Global ABC Status Report 2021, building operation causes almost a third of global energy-related CO2 emissions. There is a risk that the decisive offensive of the heat pumps will suffer the same fate. There is an urgent need for cheaper and locally generated solar energy to service them. Both require a fundamental correction in the GEG for accelerated implementation, the EEG correction in this regard is not sufficient.
There is a lack of resources for integrated energy concepts
On July 8, 2022, some modifications to the GEG were already decided as part of the approval of the EEG 2023. With the change of GEG, the new building requirement is set to tighten to Efficiency House 55. The allowable primary energy demand of the new buildings has been reduced from the original 75 to 55 percent in the reference house. Lending electricity from renewable energy sources in new buildings has also been adapted to the GEG amendment. In order to eliminate the conflicting incentives between the GEG and the EEG that was changed at the same time, priority use of electricity in the building is no longer applied. This is also how green electricity is counted if it is fed entirely to the grid. In this way, the original self-consumption is eliminated. Conversely, the adaptation should create an incentive for users to make full use of the roof area. However, these measures completely ignore the need for integrated energy concepts for electricity, heat and mobility.
As a result, there is still no comprehensive concept for decarbonising the building stock and a major revision of the GEG is still awaiting. This has to solve the various dimensions:
1. Expand local and green energy generation with no alternative.
2. Link electricity-based heat generation with the use of renewable energy.
3. Incentives for building owners to decarbonise their entire portfolio, for example through the use of greenhouse gas quotas analogous to the transport sector.
If there are no better incentives for existing buildings, switching to CO2-free buildings will become a dream.
Self-consumption is more attractive than ever and should be encouraged
We are in the middle of an energy crisis, electricity and gas prices are skyrocketing. Decentralized energy supply options are therefore becoming increasingly important for property owners and project developers. Even if the new EEG provides for increased remuneration for generating plants that feed 100 percent of the energy they produce to the grid, self-consumption or on-site marketing with excess power remains a more cost-effective model. This could replace a large part of the electricity network, which is subject to strong price fluctuations. The higher the price of electricity from the grid, the greater the price advantage of local generation.
Put simply, it is now more profitable than ever to use electricity where it is generated. In my opinion, the fact that full underwriting is remunerated with the amendment of the law contradicts the target model of an intelligently networked energy system. Instead, the necessary intelligence and digitization must finally be introduced, which cleverly controls and links consumption and production. We can no longer wait for the selective introduction of smart meters at a snail’s pace with the targets mentioned at the outset.
Solar tenant power systems are the key to decarbonisation
The more tenants’ photovoltaic systems we get on the roofs of Germany, the more we become independent of large central power plants. Thanks to electricity, the tenant of the photovoltaic can save on average one tonne of CO per dwelling without connecting sectors2 are recorded annually. In addition to the ecological effect, tenants also save significantly on electricity costs and ultimately relieve the public electricity grid. The tenant’s solar energy is therefore the beginning of the decarbonisation of our building stock. In the next step, other components can be flexibly connected to the green power supply of the building: charging stations, storage tanks and, of course, heat pumps or alternative electric heating systems. The buildings are then climate neutral and we are one step closer to the ambitious goals. The only thing missing is a coherent overall concept that links the individual components of the legislation and triggers the energy transition in the building. The implementation of photovoltaics does not have to wait – let’s get started!
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