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Charging an electric car in your garage at home: key technologies of the energy transition in a package

Photo: Martin Bäuml Fotodesign / IMAGO

Solar power from the roof at home, stored in its own battery, and thus charging the electric car: More and more people are trying to become independent of expensive electricity and fuel. The German government wants to support the purchase of photovoltaic systems, storage systems and charging stations with a new combined subsidy, which is to start on 26 September.

But now several well-known energy companies are criticizing the program of the Federal Ministry of Transport. In principle, it is welcomed that the state wants to promote "the key technologies of the energy transition exclusively in a package," according to a letter to Minister Volker Wissing, which is available to SPIEGEL. However, the funding guideline stands in the way of "the goals of the program". The letter was signed by the storage system manufacturer Sonnen from the Allgäu, the electricity suppliers Lichtblick and Octopus Energy as well as the solar suppliers Enpal and 1komma5°.

Specifically, the companies complain that applicants must already own an electric car or at least have ordered it if they want to benefit from the subsidy. "There is a chicken-and-egg problem here, which can lead to considerable reluctance or disappointed expectations when it comes to purchasing," the signatories warn. Those who are only now starting to buy an e-car cannot be sure whether the subsidy program has not already been exhausted when they are allowed to apply. "In the worst case, consumers buy an electric vehicle in reliance on the subsidy, which they can then no longer claim."

Storage soon idle in the basement?

In addition, the companies criticize the fact that, according to the directive, subsidized home storage systems may not be charged from the general power grid. According to the letter, this leaves an "enormous technical potential" for climate protection and cost relief for households, especially in winter. While solar systems generate little yield in winter, cleverly networked storage systems can absorb comparatively cheap electricity in windy hours and thus ideally relieve the grid.

Manufacturers such as Sonnen and providers such as 1komma5° are working on precisely such solutions that are intended to make electricity cheaper for networked households. All the more reason for the companies to criticize the passage in the funding guideline: "In the next energy crisis, the subsidized storage facilities would then have to stand idly in the basement instead of relieving the power grid," the letter to Wissing says. The signatories are now hoping for "a short-term improvement" of the directive.

More on the subject

  • Subsidies for charging systems:What are the benefits of the new subsidy for electric cars? By Tim Neumann

  • Attack on the energy market: Electricity at a guaranteed low price of 15 cents – can it work? By Henning Jauernig, Claus Hecking and Benedikt Müller-Arnold

  • Heat pumps, electric cars, solar storage systems: Is the eco-boom overloading the power grids?

The Ministry of Transport had announced the start of the new funding program last week. Accordingly, homeowners with their own electric car can apply for a subsidy of up to 10,200 euros from the state-owned KfW if they purchase a new charging station in combination with a new solar system and a new battery storage system. "With our new funding programme, we are focusing on self-generated electricity for e-cars," emphasised Minister Wissing. According to the directive, 100 percent of the electricity used must come from renewable sources. The federal government is providing up to 500 million euros for the programme.

When e-car owners charge self-generated solar power, this often happens at times of the day when the power grids are less busy, argues the National Centre for Charging Infrastructure, referring to the results of a survey of users.