Solar panels remain crucial to the energy transition and are still good for your wallet
The Constitutional Court has destroyed the decision of the Flemish government which guaranteed families with solar panels and a digital meter the principle of the reverse counter for 15 years after installation.
In recent years it always seemed something with those solar panels in Flanders. The rules seemed to be changed often during the game. Nevertheless it is crucial that the Flemish citizen continues to support investments in renewable energy in order to achieve the necessary energy transition together.
Is it still interesting to invest in solar panels?
The ruling of the Constitutional Court only affects people who have had solar panels installed in the past (until 31 December 2020).
For families who want to invest in solar panels now the rules are clear. Investing in solar panels is certainly worthwhile in combination with a home battery. This is because you can receive a subsidy for your solar panels. The rules and the amount of that subsidy are known for the coming years. In addition, in 2021 you can still make a claim on the Flemish subsidy for home batteries. Note that the total budget allocated for this is limited.
With the system of a reversing counter, you injected your power into the grid in the summer, and you could take that power back for free in the winter. In reality, of course, this was not the same power. The electricity grid was actually used as a battery, which is very taxing on the grid. You paid a fixed consumer rate for this.
However, the new system is crystal clear. The energy that you generate with your solar panels and use immediately (your own consumption) and/or the energy that you draw from your home battery is free. What you take from the grid, you pay for. With a home battery, you store what you have in excess until it is full. Then you inject into the grid. You can get a compensation for this, but you have to have a contract with an energy supplier that provides this injection compensation.
In the near future, you will even be able to sell power to your neighbors or a business. You won't be paying a prosumer rate anymore! Read here more about the net rate for actual consumption.
You don't just install solar panels for yourself
For years, our money in a savings account has yielded nothing, and certainly not if you take inflation into account. If you invest in solar panels on your roof and a home battery, you will have a direct return on your savings in the form of lower electricity bills.
Your investment is also socially relevant, contributes to the energy transition and helps to halt climate change.
What about a heat pump?
Heat pumps are an ecological way of heating compared to fuel oil or even natural gas. The combination of solar panels and a heat pump is currently difficult because heating with a heat pump mainly requires a lot of electricity in the winter, while your solar panels generate most of their electricity in the summer. A home battery does not serve for seasonal electricity storage and will not change this.
With a smart control of your heat pump, you can partly compensate for the loss of the reversing counter. However, the government will have to come up with additional measures to promote the use of heat pumps compared to heating with fuel oil and natural gas. For example, there are calls to shift all sorts of costs that the government used to charge on the energy bill, and which strictly speaking do not belong there, to excise duties on fossil fuels for heating. In other words, a climate tax shift.