Solar panels in housing companies
Solar power systems are easily connected to apartment buildings only. However, panels can easily be installed in row houses, too. It may in some cases even be more viable than in apartment buildings.
Apartment buildings often have considerably more apartments than row houses, but the roof area available for installing panels can be proportionally smaller. In addition, there may be ventilation rooms on the roofs of apartment buildings, the shadows of which reduce the usable area. However, in a row house there may be several apartments and different roof surfaces, such as carports, so there is plenty of space for panels.
Nevertheless, the benefits of solar panels always depend on the ratio of the number of panels to the electricity used in the apartments. An individual home in a row house with five rooms, a kitchen and a sauna is likely to have higher electricity consumption than an individual one-bedroom home in an apartment building. Regardless of the structure of the housing company, the greatest benefits come from maximising electricity consumption during the summer and in the middle of the day.
The energy produced by the housing company's solar panels can also be used in the apartments, and this is directly reflected in the residents' electricity bills. The break-even period for the investment in solar panels is reduced when the solar power can be used for both communal property electricity and electricity consumed by the apartments. Furthermore, the housing company uses climate-friendly energy, and the value of the apartments grows with sustainable energy solutions.
The purchasing process of solar panels is straightforward
The purchasing process of a solar power system is similar for both apartment buildings and row houses. The first phase is a survey carried out by the housing company's board to determine the electricity usage of the property and its apartments. Based on the information, the optimal size of the panel system is determined. The decision to purchase panels and set up an energy community is taken at the general meeting.
After this, the suppliers of solar power systems should be invited to tender. Many panel packages include design, installation, commissioning and maintenance.
The phases of establishing a solar power plant
Assess the size of the panels, the return on investment and the price of the project
You can use the calculator to calculate the potential output of solar panels for your housing company. The calculator retrieves the actual electricity consumption data of your housing company, and you see the share of your consumption that could be covered by solar power. You can assess the price and optimal size of the project for your site.
Commission a consultant or electrical designer to conduct the survey
A consultant or electrical designer is selected to conduct the survey, They will help determine the optimal size of the panel system to be purchased, prepare the material for tendering the purchase and installation of the solar panels, and investigate possible links to other projects or needs of the housing company.
Invite panel suppliers to tender
Based on the survey, a chosen number of suppliers are sent invitations to tender. A carefully conducted survey ensures the comparability of the tenders.
Bring the purchase of solar panels to the general meeting for decision
In addition to the system purchase decision, the general meeting decides on setting up an energy community and on the distribution criteria among the apartments for the solar energy produced.
Conclude an agreement with an electricity company on the sale of surplus production
When power is produced in excess of one's needs, it is sold to the electricity company's network. For this reason, the housing company must select an electricity company for an agreement.
Set up an energy community for the housing company
Under a law passed at the beginning of 2021, the solar energy produced by the housing company can also be used for the needs of the apartments. This can be done by setting up an energy community (= an energy community utilising solar energy). The distribution of electricity to the apartments takes place without meters with the help of reimbursement calculation. The service is free of charge.
Frequently asked questions
Why should the housing company conduct a survey?
The survey helps the housing company clarify the optimal size for the solar panels to be purchased: power and number. It addresses issues such as the following:
The starting point of your site:
- The energy consumption of the property and the residents
- The orientation and shadows and obstacles: chimneys, ventilation ducts, lift engine rooms, trees, flagpoles, neighbouring houses
- Whether there is an online connection for monitoring the output of the panels
The conditions of your site:
- The roof: its material, load-bearing capacity and suitability for solar energy production (resistance to snow loads and wind, and solar angles) and method of mounting
- Location and cabling routes for the inverter (electric wires on the outside wall?)
- The need for a hoist to lift the panels and other components onto the roof
- Fixing points for safety ropes on the roof
And the following calculations are prepared:
- The area of the roof suitable for solar energy production, and its output potential
- The optimal size and power of the panels
- and the solar energy output is assessed
Based on the information from the survey, solar panel suppliers are invited to tender in a uniform manner. This aims to ensure that the tenders are as comparable as possible.
What if the housing company does not set up an energy community?
During the sunny hours of summer, even a small number of panels can easily produce more electricity than can be used for the property's communal technical and lighting needs. In this case, the surplus from the property must be sold to the network – instead of being used by the energy community for the residents' own electricity consumption. In the latter case, the financial benefits are much greater, as the price obtained from selling electricity is only about a third of what residents pay for their own electricity – including electricity tax.
Setting up an energy community does not generate additional benefits in a situation where the housing company already has another technical solution for the storage of the surplus produced by solar panels. Such a solution could be, for example, the heating of hot domestic water with the electricity produced by solar panels.
Will the housing company need new meters as a result of the energy community?
The energy community is a service provided by Caruna to its customers, where the distribution of electricity takes place with the help of reimbursement calculation. Reimbursement calculation is virtual metering, so no technical changes are needed for the calculation and distribution of the production by the housing company's solar panels: no new meters or changes to current meters.
Can the housing company receive a grant for an energy project?
It is worth applying for a grant, especially if several measures (for example, switching to geothermal heating and installing charging poles and solar panels) will improve the energy efficiency (E-factor) of the housing company.
Caruna wants to be involved in the fight against the impacts of climate change and to promote the possibilities of its customers to take climate action easily and effortlessly. Examples of this include encouraging the production of solar power and electric motoring.
Is the housing company obligated to pay value added tax on the electricity it sells?
In its preliminary ruling (KHO:2021:20), the Supreme Administrative Court has ruled that minor and occasional surplus sales do not give rise to VAT liability.
When the system is sized to produce electricity primarily for the use of the housing company and its residents, this requirement is well fulfilled. The sale of surplus production generated during sunny and low consumption hours is normal in a correctly sized system.