How the energy transition can succeed using the sun

Photovoltaics means converting sunlight into electrical energy. As a decentralised generation technology, photovoltaics is well suited for tapping additional expansion potential in a densely populated state like North Rhine-Westphalia – especially near places where the power is also consumed. 

Photovoltaics can be used in a wide variety of ways thanks to its modular design – as a roof system, as an integrated building component or on the earth as large solar parks. Photovoltaics can also be offer dual use options on agricultural land (Agri PV), sealed surfaces (solar carports) and artificial bodies of water (floating PV). 


More photovoltaics in the energy mix in the future

Solar energy already makes a significant contribution to the power supply in North Rhine-Westphalia. In order to achieve the ambitious climate protection goals, this amount must increase significantly in the future. In recent years, photovoltaics has undergone significant technological development and become much cheaper and more versatile. This is one of the reasons why it will have a significant share in NRW’s power supply in the future. The federal state wants to continue to intensify PV expansion and use. To aid in this goal, the state government has launched an enhanced “PV Offensive NRW”. NRW.Energy4Climate coordinates the PV offensive, provides information about current events and offers information and exchange formats. 


There are different possible applications for photovoltaics: 

Photovoltaics on commercial roofs

Commercial enterprises can make a decisive contribution to advancing the energy transition. This is because many of them have roof surfaces that are well suited for installing photovoltaic systems. Power demand in businesses is also high, especially during the day when there is a lot of sunshine. These are ideal conditions for using self-generated electricity directly on site. 


By doing this, businesses can reduce and secure their electricity costs in the long term. When companies use their own electricity from renewable energy sources, it also sends a real signal for climate protection. The use of photovoltaics does not have to involve a great deal of effort for businesses. Companies can use their own electricity on site without having to operate or invest in the system themselves. There are now specialised service providers who take on these services for companies, for example through roof leasing or contracting. 


There is a lot of momentum for the commercial installation and use of photovoltaics. The Ministry for Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitalisation and Energy of the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia launched the “More Photovoltaics on Commercial Roofs - Campaign 2021+” campaign to help advance the use of photovoltaics in the commercial sector. 


More information is available here:


Ground-mounted photovoltaics

Photovoltaics can be particularly cost-effective to install in open spaces. Such systems usually have a significantly higher output than roof systems, but may only be built in special locations such as sealed areas, conversion areas or along motorways or train lines. These require development plans since they are structural installations.


In some cases, large solar parks can already cover their own costs without subsidies. And the plants subsidised under the Renewable Energy Sources Act also generate electricity close to the market price. The average bid price in 2020 was just over five cents per kilowatt-hour. So far however, few ground-mounted PV plants have been built in North Rhine-Westphalia. The state government wants to change this, particularly by adjusting the regulatory framework. 

Tenant electricity

Tenant electricity refers to electricity generated from a PV system on the roof of a residential building and consumed within the building. The idea is for tenants in urban areas to also be able to actively participate in the energy transition. This also upgrades the property – both for the tenants and the landlords. The landlord does not necessarily have to operate the photovoltaic systems or the tenant electricity model. Instead, they can be operated by specialised service companies and local energy suppliers.


Tenant electricity from PV systems of a certain size are subsidised by the Renewable Energy Sources Act. Owners can receive a tenant electricity surcharge if their system has a maximum output of 100 kilowatts. For subsidies, at least 40 per cent of the building must be used as residential space. Then commercial tenants in the building can also receive the subsidised tenant electricity. It is also possible to supply the surrounding neighbourhood. 

Innovative photovoltaic concepts

North Rhine-Westphalia is the most densely populated federal state in Germany. Available areas for energy generation are relatively scarce. They compete with other uses such as agricultural production, buildings and transport infrastructure. That is why there are innovative concepts that make dual land use possible. This way, renewable energy can also be generated in smaller spaces.


PV in agriculture: Agri PV

Permanent agricultural crops can grow under high-mounted PV systems. The canopy can provide protection against damage from the elements (hail, frost, drought) and reduce evaporation. This can simultaneously save water. It is also possible for PV systems and arable farming to occur right next to each other in the same area, for example through vertically placed solar modules. 


PV on the water: floating PV

Another innovative type of system is floating PV systems. Such systems currently exist only on artificial or heavily modified standing bodies of water, for example on lakes created by gravel mining. There are many such areas in North Rhine-Westphalia, for example in the Rhenish mining district. Installing photovoltaics on water is particularly practical because open water surfaces rarely get shade. Additionally, the cooling effect of the water ensures that the modules work more efficiently and more power can be generated. This technology is growing worldwide. 


PV in urban areas: solar carports

In urban, sealed areas, photovoltaics can be installed on the roofs of public and non-public car parks. This created a double use for areas that are already sealed. The systems also provide shade and thus prevent the city from overheating. Another practical advantage is that the panels can be directly connected to an EV charging station. This allows the electricity to be used directly on site. 

Your contact

Portrait des Projektmanagers für Energiewirtschaft Jonas Klamka.

Jonas Klamka

Project Manager Energy Sector

Phone: +49 211 8220 864-35

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Portrait der Projektmanagerin für Energiewirtschaft Lisa Conrads.

Lisa Conrads

Project Manager Energy Sector

Phone: +49 211 8220 864-39

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