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Business model for communal PV systems in apartment buildings


Due to the planned amendment to eco-electricity laws, it will be legally possible for residents of apartment buildings to use electricity from private communal PV facilities for private purposes. This will significantly improve the economic efficiency of such facilities.

At the moment there are various business models for the operation of PV systems in apartment buildings. Please rate the practicability of the following business models.

Model 1 “PV System and infrastructure” (“free electricity”)

Property owners invest in the PV system and make electricity available for the residents, increased property value

very useful (10 points) ______________________+_______________________not useful (0 points)

Model 2 “Residents agreement”

Residents invest in a PV system and regulate the operation and use themselves (e.g. via a club/ association)

very useful (10 points) ______________________+_______________________not useful (0 points)

Model 3 “External company and leasing”

External company invests and operates the PV system, residents lease a right of use for private use

very useful (10 points) ______________________+_______________________not useful (0 points)

Model 4 “Supplier contracting”

Electricity supplier installs the PV system and sells PV electricity to the residents

very useful (10 points) ______________________+_______________________not useful (0 points)

Further ideas for models:

please describe further business models that you believe are useful for PV-use in apartment buildings.

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The evaluation of practicability of different business models for communal PV systems in apartment buildings provided the following results:

Almost 70% of experts asked consider supplier contracting as an especially promising business model. In supplier contracting, the electricity provider installs a PV system and sells PV electricity for private use to the residents. In second place with 62% agreement was the business model “External company and leasing” (external company invests in and operates the PV system, the residents rent a right of use for private consumption). Around 55% of those asked see reasonable implementation potential in the residents’ agreement model. The least agreement (almost 38%) as a useful solution was provided for the model “PV system as infrastructure (“free electricity”). In this model the property owner invests in the PV system and makes the power available to the residents (increased property value).

Graphic 1: Proportion of people (in percentage) who find the following incentive instruments (very) useful (ranking >8 on a scale of 1-10)

Further suggestions put forward by the experts:

  • Residents rent an area to reduce operational costs; operator sells electricity on the market
  • One tenant installs a unit and sells electricity to the building community
  • Property developers should not additionally become energy providers; it should be comfortable and easy for every customer; therefore all agendas should be outsourced to an external professional. Mixed models are above all needed, so that customers can choose between leasing and buying – no either/or models. PV systems in apartment buildings should be seen especially against the background of e-mobility.
  • Finally these models are only ‘calculated’ on the basis of cost-shifting of infrastructure costs (network…) as a commonality. Does that really make strategic sense as an integral part of energy politics?
  • Commercial enterprises from the region (include these, battery storage,..)
  • The energy provider installs and operates the PV system in an apartment building (social housing) and sells to the tenants based on a dynamic model according to energy consumption with a bonus for personal use that costs less than the electricity from the power outlet. Then tenants with low income also have a benefit and the energy provider can regain tenants who have switched to a more affordable energy provider.