Photovoltaic panels are becoming more and more common throughout the world and they start to show up on apartment complexes, as well. These panels are a great way for household owners to reduce their energy bill, but they can even help us become prosumers who can sell the generated electricity into the grid. In short, a prosumer is someone who both produces and consumes energy.
Residents of an apartment complex in Cardiff recently started using what is known as shared-solar panels, which means that the solar installation atop their building is being used by all households within it. This way, they can reduce energy costs by as much as 50%.
This, of course, depends on the amount of solar exposure that the panels have throughout the day, month or year, but the technology advances quickly and modern panels can transform even the least-powerful sunrays into electricity.
Energy communities are a new trend that started to gain traction recently in Europe, as there are a number of people who produce their own power through things like solar panels and deliver it to others in a small neighborhood.
How solar panels help you reduce your energy bill
Regarding photovoltaic panels, representatives from Enel Romania told us that "the economies can vary depending on multiple aspects: the customer's energy usage habits, the orientation of the panels themselves, their inclination and meteorological conditions."
They also said that the first step of efficiently implementing the panels is to first analyze the average monthly electricity usage and the moment during the day when the most energy is being consumed. Afterwards, the future prosumer can talk to a company that is specialized in installing solar panels to take advantage of a simulation and get a system recommendation.
Experts at Enel Romania recommend that the solar panels are to be oriented either towards the south or east-west for the best possible energy yield. At the same time, they say that "the best angle is the minus 10⁰ latitude (34⁰-35⁰ for Romania)."
"If the aforementioned conditions are met, we can estimate that each kW of the solar panels system can produce an annual of around 1.000 to 1.100 kWh of power, on the condition that it is not shadowed and that meteorological conditions are favorable (sunlight during most of the day)", Enel Romania representatives explained.
The price of a photovoltaic system with an installed power of 3kW (which can produce an annual of 3.300 kWh) is around 23.000-25.000 RON, an estimate that includes the delivery, installation, equipment and the documents necessary to become a prosumer.
We were also told that "in order to calculate best the recovery of the investment, future prosumers need to know that the share of energy used for self-consumption (out of the total power produced with the solar panels) compared to the energy injected in the power grid (the excess of energy produced that the prosumer doesn't use and can choose to sell) is about 60% to 40%.
This means that the prosumer can supply nearly half of the power that the solar installation produces, but of course that depends on a number of factors, among which are production capacity and the household's energy requirements.
This can be good enough if you don't want to become a prosumer, but the idea that you can make some extra money to recover your investment even faster is promising to many.
Also, selling a house that has solar panels installed on it and that are in good shape can add great value. Adding some sort of energy storage solution and the fact that the panels can deliver power to the grid and that house becomes significantly more valuable for potential buyers.
If you own a hybrid car or a full battery-electric vehicle, solar panels can help you charge your own car with clean power, possibly cost-free, which is great for the environment and your pocket, as well.
Again, this will help you recover the cost of the EV even faster, although charging speeds will depend on how fast the charging station that you get is.
Prosumers in Romania
We found from Enel Romania officials that "for all three E-Distribuție companies (E-Distribuție Banat, E-Distribuție Dobrogea și E-Distribuție Muntenia), at the end of the month of february, 2023, there were over 16.270 registered prosumer requests.
Officials from the Environment Fund Administration announced right before the end of last year that of all added and analyzed files, 5.445 more have been approved for financing.
There are over 400 companies on the list of installation experts validated by AFM in the program regarding solar panel installations that customers can contact for consultancy and expertize.
These companies, which are working in most of Romania's counties, can help customers with regards to consultancy before installing the photovoltaics, purchasing and installing the panels, connecting them to the grid and the maintenance that happens over time.
Officials tell those who want to take advantage of this program that "through Green House Photovoltaics, recipients can get a financing option that covers 90% of the total value of the eligible spending, with a limit of 20.000 RON, when installing solar panels with at least 3kW of power."
Why should you become a prosumer
There are a number of advantages to becoming a prosumer, regardless of the country that you live in.
In Romania, most energy companies have dedicated web pages to prosumers and the advantages of solar panel installations.
Distribuție Energie Electrică România says that prosumers who own renewable energy systems with an installed power of at most 27kW per place of consumption, can sell the energy that they produce themselves into the power grid via the energy company that they have a contract with. Also, the energy bill for prosumers includes details about how much energy was sold into the grid and how much power was consumed from it by the said prosumer.
"The current law regarding prosumers with installations of at most 200kW per place of consumption involves a quantity compensation between the energy produced and delivered into the grid and the energy consumed for that said month on a 1:1 ratio", Enel Romania officials told us.
In some cases, prosumers may not even use power from the grid at all, if the sunlight is strong enough and solar energy yields are rich, meaning that they will have virtually no electricity bill costs and can even make extra money from the energy they delivered.
Battery storage solutions can come in handy in this situation, as the prosumer can have extra power reserve that he can use in case of a power outage or if the sun is not powerful enough to deliver the required power.