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Electricity from the swarm

26 percent of Germans to make their own power by 2020

A survey published this month and finds that more than a quarter of Germans aim to make their own energy from their homes by the end of this decade either from solar power or small cogeneration units. The number is up from 18 percent in 2012.

German green power provider Lichtblick has been promoting the idea of “swarm electricity” for some time now. In this concept, distributed generators of renewable power are combined in a virtual power plant, with the power company serving as the aggregator. In the case of solar, of course, power production cannot be adjusted without storage, which is why the project talks so much about cogeneration units small enough for households.

In the latest survey on the topic conducted for the firm, the number of those surveyed (1,000 people above the age of 16) who said they planned to make their own energy from solar panels or a small cogeneration unit by the end of this decade rose considerably from 18 to 26 percent since the last survey from 2012.

But the biggest increase would be the rise in the number of those making their own power. Last summer, we reported on the number of Germans who already make their own energy: six percent. In other words, we face an increase from 6 to 26 percent of German citizens who make their own energy within just seven years (2013-2020).

Germany aims to discontinue feed-in tariffs for solar power when 52 GW of PV has been installed, a level that should be reached a few years before 2020. But with electricity from new PV systems already only costing 9-13 cents per kilowatt-hour and retail rates approaching 30 cents, it is unlikely that the market will stop when feed-in tariffs for PV are discontinued. The balconies solar panels mentioned yesterday are one example of how PV could become ubiquitous. Indeed, to the extent these two surveys are comparable, it looks like the number of Germans who make their own power is going to quadruple over the next six years. (Craig Morris)

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