Direct marketing of rooftop PV systems with STEAG Solar Energy Solutions

Direktvermarktung von PV-Dachanlagen

Earning money with photovoltaics: direct marketing of rooftop systems for industry, trade and commerce

Rooftop Systems
 not only produce green electricity, but also generate extra income. You can find out below how exactly this works and which steps are necessary to achieve it!

A solar installation produces energy from solar radiation - but this does not mean that electricity immediately starts flowing out of the sockets. What is still required to keep the production machines running or the refrigerated display unit functioning is the inverter. This is necessary for photovoltaic systems because the solar modules generate direct current, while the public power grid and the devices connected to it use alternating current.

Depending on whether it is a closed stand-alone system or a connection to the public electricity grid, the feed-in has to be locally or externally controlled. However, before a new PV system can be connected to the grid there are a few steps to be taken. For years, STEAG Solar Energy Solutions has relied on the cooperation with its partner Meteo Control and together they have acquired valuable experience. The service provider is commissioned by us with the technical implementation of direct marketing operations.

What actually happens between the installation of the inverter and the grid connection?

In order to determine a possible feed-in point, the solar experts at SENS record the current status of the electrical system. To make sure that customers can benefit from green electricity from their own production in the future, a so-called grid compatibility test is required whenever a "decentralised feed-in system" is installed. After this has been submitted to the responsible energy supplier and approved by them, the final planning can begin. Among other things, the compatibility test covers the feed-in point, the design of the protective technology and other specifications which the energy supplier prescribes for the operation of a photovoltaic system on its grid. The compatibility test also regulates the extent to which "grid and system protection" and "reactive power undervoltage protection" have to be implemented.

After the grid connection point has been defined, the connection to the grid can be prepared: whether in the house, in a production hall or up to the transformer station. If necessary, the team of experts at SENS can also carry out the design of a transformer station. For a feed-in power greater than 135 kVA, a so-called system certificate also has to be issued. The solar experts also take care of the extensive documentation required by the system certifiers. Electrical plans are drawn up, components and unit certificates are collected and a questionnaire is obtained from the grid operator. In this way, all the technical details of the system are regulated.

Direct marketing under Renewable Energies Act as a profitable model

Parallel to communication with the energy supplier, the customer decides which direct marketer to commission. SENS will of course be there to provide advice. This is because direct marketing is obligatory for PV systems with a nominal output of 100 kWp or more according to Renewable Energies Act. This model can also be worthwhile for smaller systems. SENS can also provide and directly install the hardware required by the direct marketer.

An overview of the advantages of direct marketing

For decades, the model of feed-in tariffs - regulated by the Germany’s renewable energies act - was considered a valuable instrument for the expansion of renewable energies. The resulting attractiveness for investors and private individuals made Germany one of the most appealing markets for photovoltaics. The revision of the Renewable Energies Act in 2012 also promoted direct marketing. Owners of installations established under the legislation can sell the electricity generated by their photovoltaic system to third parties. In this case, the electricity is not purchased by the grid operator but by a direct marketer, which in turn sells the electricity on the electricity exchange.

Over the course of a month, the prices set there are averaged and the owner of the system is paid the market value by the direct marketer. Since this is only the price actually achieved, it has to be supplemented by a so-called “market premium”. The market premium is financed from the Renewable Energies Act levy and together with the market value forms the "value to be applied". The value to be applied is always calculated in such a way that it is never less than the equivalent feed-in tariff without a direct marketing model.

What are the requirements for operating the direct marketing model?

An accredited direct marketer must be listed on the stock exchange. It must be possible to regulate a remote control device in the form of a ripple control system. In this way, the direct marketer can actively influence the production of the installation, for example in order to counteract falling prices. The installation is controlled via a control room and remote readouts must therefore be possible via a router.

Do I have to engage a direct marketer?

Since 2016, direct marketing of electricity has been mandatory for PV systems with a capacity of 100 kWp or more. The exception is where your load profile is suitable for almost complete self-consumption of the electricity. In this case you can formally submit a waiver declaration to the responsible grid operator and act accordingly with official approval. We will be happy to prepare a profitability analysis based on your load profile.

Can existing systems be directly marketed?

You can take advantage of this model even with existing systems, regardless of the rated output. As an incentive, you will even receive an extra 0.4 euro cents for every kilowatt hour. As systems prior to 2012 don't have a feed-in management system (radio ripple control receiver) as standard, retrofitting is required at this point.

By when must the system be registered for direct marketing?

In order to prepare everything in advance the direct marketer should receive the documents by the last day of the previous month at the latest. If there are delays, you can still register the PV system up to 3 months after commissioning. In the meantime, you will receive interim remuneration which must be registered with the responsible grid operator.

When is the value to be applied secured and how long is this remuneration guaranteed?

Feed-in confirmation is in place when the direct marketer confirms that the system can be remotely controlled. The remuneration is guaranteed for 20 years, analogous to the feed-in tariff. The technical components are designed to record and transmit the yield and feed-in data.

The larger the photovoltaic system, the more worthwhile direct marketing is. Let our experts advise you without obligation whether this model is suitable for your rooftop system. We’ll be happy to help!


We'll be happy to advise you


Picture: Marco Bömmel