Zoom Image

Small-scale solar systems: Balconies are given a new task, electricity generation

Photo: Stefan Sauer / dpa

Federal Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP) wants to make it much easier to connect mini-solar systems, for example on the balcony or on the façade of a house.

The legal hurdles for so-called plug-in photovoltaic systems are still too high, he said on Wednesday. In the future, they will therefore be considered a "privileged structural change" – this would give apartment owners and tenants a right to consent for the operation of their facility.

The small solar systems are very popular, the purchase is promoted in many cities or federal states. They reduce electricity bills, are easy to install and contribute to climate protection. Due to their size and electricity yield, they usually focus on producing electricity for their own needs.

The rules for connection differ in part depending on the power grid operator. In addition, landlords and, under certain conditions, co-owners have a say.

In a motion by the CDU/CDU parliamentary group last week, these approval requirements in the tenancy or in the community of owners were described as particularly major obstacles. Consumer advocates had been calling for simplifications in the installation of the systems for some time, and at the end of March, the energy ministers of the federal states joined in.

Other hurdles

Buschmann's bill doesn't just deal with mini-solar systems. It also provides for the possibility of virtual condominium owners' meetings. The apartment owners would have to pass a resolution with a three-quarters majority. The meeting could then also take place "exclusively online".

There are other hurdles to the installation of balcony power plants than just the approval requirements. For example, questions of technical standardization are still unresolved, namely whether a Wieland plug is required for ready-to-plug systems or whether a simple Schuko socket is sufficient. Consumer advocates are also calling for a clear regulation as to whether the electricity meters may run backwards as soon as the system produces more electricity than household appliances are currently consuming. A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice referred to Robert Habeck's Ministry of Economic Affairs, which is responsible for this, when asked by SPIEGEL.