The emperors undisclosed strategy

11/11/2013 14:04

[About common sense and the little secrets of the energy debate]

When talking about alternative energy, and photovoltaic in particular, the discussion will almost certainly become very complex indeed. This is not so much, because the issue is so tremendously difficult, but rather because it has been so awkwardly regulated.

Imagine you have bought a car, but it is bigger than what you yourself need. Happens all the time you might think, but this one came with a very special deal.

You are allowed to put the car onto your drive, and you can use it every day for some time... For the rest of the day however, the car will be used by other people. Of course, you get handsomely paid for the inconvenience. - You still have to hire a car every time you can't use your own car, but since this is cheaper than what you get for letting out your own car, you don't mind.

Sounds great?  There are some downsides though. - You have to pay for your car up front, or take out a special loan. You cannot change your car for the next twenty years, and you cannot sell it, without selling your entire drive into the bargain.

What if you see a newer and much better model? Tough! You are stuck with the car you have got.  It's not really your own car! Is it?

And when the twenty years are over, what happens then?

This is pretty much the contract situation, which most people in Europe, who invest in a photovoltaic installation, will find themselves in.

Some people though decide, that they don't need a big car. They get a smaller one, with a different deal.

The car they are buying is small. So small in fact, that it only covers their essential needs. If they need more, then they will hire a car again.

Sometimes however, the car covers more than that, and  instead of standing idle around on the drive, they have to provide it to other people, entirely free of charge.

It is true, that it is their own car and that it was much cheaper to buy. But, any newer or bigger car they will get, only means that they have to give it away (for free) even more.

One rightly wanders about the logic in that.

Would it not be much better, if people could buy a car, that fits their average needs and use it for themselves whenever? Then, when they have a bigger need, they just hire an extra car again.

But,  at times when they don't need their car, they give it away against credit.  This way, when they next need to hire a car, they can use up their credit to pay.

Unfortunately, this scenario is not available anywhere today, and until now, it is a legal offence, to buy and install a photovoltaic system of any size, and connect it to the mains electricity grid, without the Energy suppliers written consent!

This consent however, comes exclusively in the above described form, although it slightly differs from country to country. In the UK there are self consumption schemes on offer, but in Greece unfortunately not, while in Germany self consumption is fixed up to certain maximum levels.

The "Prosumer" (producer and consumer) stands not just for a newly coined word, but also for an unsolved puzzle, to governments and the electrical industry.

Of course many people will argue, 'what is wrong with any of the existing schemes?', but as it becomes more and more apparent today, these schemes are their own biggest enemies.

-              They have accelerated this government subsidized development out of control. Making it impossible to generate the necessary public funds, and thus running the risk of losing public backing.

A situation, where the industry and the producers don't want to let go of their disproportionate funding and the general public no longer willing to pay.

-              They have led to an unbalanced development, where at the weakest link of the grid (the end-consumers side), big amounts of energy are being produced, which can overload the existing infrastructure and need to be especially controlled.

That this system has almost run its course becomes clear in a not much spoken about paper from the European Parliament, where it states that; "no specific strategy on small scale energy generation currently exists and (the non specific ones)... are dispersed through multiple ... initiatives."

And further down under point 3 it points out, "that energy poverty is a growing problem; emphasises that facilitating microgeneratio n can empower consumers to have more control over their energy use and reduce energy poverty; calls for special attention to be paid to tenants who are often deterred of efficiency-improvements and of generating their  own energy;"

SoLenium technology is dedicated to finding and implementing such solutions today. We have seen some of these, as yet unregulated, solutions and know that they work. If you are interested to find out more about how and why they are different, and what needs changing in the law, 'read on!'

You can find the (very interesting and short) EU document here,