The solar obligation is one of the most discussed instruments when it comes to achieving the Paris climate goals. But what exactly is meant by the solar obligation? Does it also come nationwide for private new buildings? And who pays for all the new PV systems?
What does “solar duty” even mean?
The solar obligation is the legal requirement for the installation of photovoltaic systems or solar thermal energy on new and existing buildings. With this obligation, the legislator wants to significantly accelerate the expansion of renewable energies. So far, however, the solar obligation has only been applied in individual municipalities or federal states.
In fact, the solar obligation would be a big step towards climate neutrality by 2045. Nevertheless, there is criticism of the proposed law, especially when it comes to general financing or implementation of apartment buildings. What exactly a solar obligation should look like in the end and to what extent old buildings will also be included is still largely unclear.
What is certain, however, is that the options for fulfilling a solar obligation have never been as diverse as they are today. Thanks to constantly falling module prices and generous subsidies for electricity storage, photovoltaic systems pay off earlier and earlier. Furthermore, rental models for solar systems enable flexible financing without additional acquisition costs.
Where is the solar obligation already in force?
Baden-Württemberg was the first large federal state to introduce a solar obligation for residential buildings. All new non-residential buildings and all new residential buildings are required to install solar panels and solar emergency generator (Notstromaggregat Solar). From January 2023, the solar building obligation will also apply to the roof renovation of existing buildings. The city-states of Berlin, Hamburg, and Bremen had already passed a law requiring solar panels for residential buildings by 2023 at the latest.
In other federal states such as Rhineland-Palatinate, Lower Saxony, or the Free State of Bavaria, weakened variants of the solar obligation already apply. However, in these cases, only commercially used buildings and parking spaces have been included. In Bavaria, a solar roof requirement for new commercial and industrial buildings should take effect from January 2023. For other non-residential buildings, the solar obligation applies from July 1, 2023. It remains open when and whether the solar building obligation will also be extended to residential buildings. The state government in Hesse is also planning a solar requirement for state-owned buildings and parking lots.
The solar obligation is like any other legal obligation. It is stimulated and heatedly discussed. What is certain, however, is that Germany must pick up the pace in the expansion of photovoltaics in order to achieve the desired goals.