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"Do you pay for your
neighbor's solar panels?"

Mats Karlström on system shifts:

Entrepreneur and system solver in planned consumption, board member of Sweden's Energy Communities, Eaasy AB and co-founder of Ferroamp.

  • There may not necessarily be anything wrong with the support for rooftop solar panels with local batteries; rather, it's the use of the electricity grid that has led us to a crossroads between different future paths, not the end of the road. Perhaps the support should be redirected, and the funds could be used for modern sustainable system technology.

One of the choices is to ban solar panels and/or cease support for solar panels and batteries. This would make it easier for grid operators to manage the issues, and things could continue as before. The result would be unfair benefits for those who have already installed solar panels, limitations on renewable energy production, and the opportunity to utilize a distributed investment resource where engaged citizens become more aware of the costs and challenges related to energy issues. Besides being generally disheartening to halt something that engages so many new solar panel owners, it does not address the challenges of remote coordination of chargers and heat pumps to the cheapest hour, causing voltage drops without control.

Another creative alternative could be to redirect today's outdated regulation with individual grid connections and allow us to come together in the residential area and control a common connection at the shared substation. Leave the decisions and control to us who live in an area served by a substation.

We don't need to replace substations; instead, we should utilize them better! Give us the opportunity, both practical and economic, to dynamically control and manage our own electricity usage with production and power control together, as a community. We can manage excess solar energy and spread loads over the cheapest hours without overloading "our" substation, much like coordinating individual and collective electricity usage in a housing cooperative with a grid connection. Then we would move forward to something better and not stay or go backward... Those of us who live or do business in an area have the greatest motivation to have a well-functioning substation. We also want control over our own situation. The solar energy we choose to install and control with storage or smarter usage is cheap energy.

If we choose to come together to manage overproduction, we create greater flexibility and control over the day. In addition to the solar energy we choose to export, the controllable flexibility would become a resource for both balancing services and local grid nodes. Of course, we need to develop rules for how we collaborate with local grid operators (smart grid in reality). Those who do not wish to participate do not have to, but for those of us who do, it would create new opportunities.

Isn't it difficult to achieve this? Indeed, but the alternatives we face are all difficult and have their consequences. Transition means adapting to make many complex factors work together. Do we want to seek new modern methods that fit our current and future electricity needs, or do we want to squeeze the future into current boxes?

Response from Mats to this article from the business magazine "Näringslivet" and Pet Everhill at Tekniska Verken.

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