Expert Interview – Smart Combination: Solar, Storage and E-Mobility

Expert Interview - March 29, 2022

Interview with the managing director of the market and economic research company EUPD, Dr. Martin Ammon, on the opportunities and benefits of combining PV, storage and e-mobility for the electrical trade.

The combination of solar power, storage technologies and e-mobility are key cornerstones of the transition to clean energy and transport. How has this development been noticed by installation companies?

Dr. Martin Ammon: According to our survey data, a steady increase in the electromobility charging stations offered in the portfolios of photovoltaic installers has been seen for years. Currently more than half of German solar installers – 59 percent to be precise – offer charging solutions. This development is supported by the growing range of wall boxes offered by traditional manufacturers in the photovoltaic and storage sector. These manufacturers increasingly offer system solutions from photovoltaic systems to electricity storage systems and wall boxes through installers.

What challenges are presented by the new range of electromobility solutions to the installer?

Government incentive schemes triggered a sharp rise in customer demand for charging stations in particular in 2021, including from photovoltaic installers. With a good 200 suppliers and approx. 900 models of charging stations, installation companies face a new world when it comes to information procurement and product purchasing. In addition, the respective charging stations have to fit in with their own product portfolio of photovoltaic and storage components.

What does this type of sector coupling mean for the actual implementation by the installer?

The added value of a photovoltaic system with a wall box connection lies in the charging of the electric vehicle with the solar power generated on site, possibly via a battery storage unit. Accordingly, this needs to be considered in the planning process and the design of the photovoltaic storage system. For the finished system, it is essential that the photovoltaic system, storage system and wall box can communicate with one another in order to maximize the solar charging of the e-car. The necessity of compatibility and complexity also apply when an existing solar system is retrofitted with a wall box.

What are currently the biggest barriers to the installation of charging stations by the photovoltaic trade?

Like the photovoltaic and storage market, the charging infrastructure market was also characterized by bottlenecks in 2021. The charging station market and the interest of consumers have grown sharply in the past two years. The installation of charging stations is a supplementary source of income for most solar installers, while a lack of experience with products and manufacturers and the wide variety of products make it difficult for installers to choose. In addition, solar installers are working close to capacity, as a result additional orders for charging stations often cannot be accepted or processed. A shortage of skilled workers, high order levels of existing businesses and supply bottlenecks slow down the completion of installation orders. Photovoltaic installers consider the high prices of charging stations to be another barrier.

What potential does electromobility offer to installers?

Current analyses show that the biggest share of electromobility charging stations is installed by traditional electrical installers. Currently only a minority of these electrical installers also install photovoltaic and storage systems. Here the range of charging stations offered provides the traditional electrical installer with the potential to develop into a solar power installer. With the increasing electrification of domestic heating systems and a networked control of household demand for electricity, further growth areas will emerge for installers.