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It pays to use your own solar power

24. February 2009. Raphael van Hövell is one of the first system operators in Germany to finance their PV installations with the new tariff for private consumers under the German Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG). With the EEG amendment on 1 January this year the German government introduced the new type of payment for PV installations with a capacity of up to 30 kilowatts. For every kilowatt-hour system operators use themselves they receive 25.01 cents over a period of 20 years. In addition they save the cost of their household electricity.


Van Hövell needs about 30,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity to light and ventilate his feeding pens and feed his 1,200 pigs in the district of Borken. Since the beginning of February he has been generating the electricity himself with his 29.4 kilowatt system. Even at today’s electricity prices, van Hövell’s total profit will increase by around €10,000 in 20 years because he uses his electricity himself rather than feeding it into the grid. If electricity prices rise, as is expected, he will make an even larger profit. At the moment household electricity costs approximately 20 cents per kilowatt-hour. With the extra tariff this makes a total of 45.01 cents – two cents more than would be the case if it were fed into the grid. This amounts to an additional profit in the range of €10,000 over 20 years.

“Technically, installing these PV installations is quite simple,” explains Hans-Thomas Fritzsche, General Manager of Sputnik’s German subsidiary, Sputnik Engineering GmbH. The company installed six SolarMax string inverters in van Hövell’s PV installation. “All you need to do is install an additional meter to record the amount of electricity the household uses. The new regulation is good news for homeowners as well as farmers. You generate electricity when it is at its most expensive and then buy it in the evenings at a reduced rate. Furthermore, you are not affected by electricity price rises imposed by the energy suppliers,” says Fritzsche.

PV installation operators who feed their electricity into the grid are treated as companies under tax law. This means they are repaid the 19 per cent VAT payable on investment costs by the German Ministry of Finance. Until now this issue has remained unresolved as regards private use of installations. Now the German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety has formulated their position on this. In a background document the ministry states, “The operators’ direct use of their own electricity does not affect their company status as defined by the law on VAT” and “does not usually lead to a financial penalty for system operators who pay VAT on in-feed and take advantage of possibility to deduct input tax.”


About Sputnik Engineering AG

Sputnik Engineering AG was founded in 1991 by Christoph von Bergen and Philipp Müller and since then has concentrated exclusively on the development, sale and maintenance of inverters for grid-connected photovoltaic installations. Based in Biel (Switzerland), the company offers a wide range of products with its SolarMax series including string inverters for single residences and central inverters for solar power stations. Our products are based on many years of experience and continuous improvements and are characterised by cutting-edge technology, high quality, reliability, maximum yields and an excellent price/performance ratio.

Sputnik Engineering currently has around 230 staff at the Swiss company headquarters and in subsidiaries in Neuhausen (Germany), Madrid (Spain), Milan (Italy) and Paris (France). This year the company expects to produce SolarMax string and central inverters with a total capacity of 420 megawatts.

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Sputnik Engineering AG
Höheweg 85
2502 Biel/Bienne, Switzerland
Tel +41 (0) 32 346 5600
Fax +41 (0) 32 346 5609

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