EndcustomerMonitor: Customers would like more independence

(PresseBox) ( Bonn, )
EuPD Research has examined the consumer behavior of PV customers in their latest study. The findings revealed that customers are putting some thought into storage solutions and are prepared to lower their yield expectations. Such reductions may be possible in theory but in practice, complete independence cannot be reached. The current study “Endcustomers in Focus” answers questions on consumer behavior and the needs of end customers.

The market for photovoltaic systems is facing fundamental change. The regulatory framework is changing rapidly and financial planning for a solar system has become more difficult. In Germany, for example, subsidies will be modified on a monthly basis from November. Calculation of this degression will be based on the figures for installed capacity for the months July to September. The impact this will have on the customer purchasing behavior can be seen in a survey carried out by EuPD Research, a Bonn based market researcher, among over 1,600 users of the portal Photovoltaikforum. The results have been published in the study “Endcustomers in Focus – Revealing Needs for 2012 and beyond”.

To date the strongest sales arguments have been customer expectations regarding financial returns. Double digit returns and short amortization times had a positive effect on the sales of photovoltaic systems and did not require lengthy discussions. “The economic feasibility of a PV system is a calculable variable that can be expressed in a measurable figure for customers even if the method behind the economic calculation and a yield forecast with IRR could be open to discussion”, explains Markus Lohr, Chief Analyst at EuPD Research.

This line of argumentation becomes more difficult in the future. Then according to the study “Endcustomers in Focus – Revealing Needs for 2012 and beyond” 88% of those surveyed that installed a system in 2012 or would like to install a system stated that they are thinking about a storage solution. According to the study, the average yield expectation following the installation of a storage solution is, depending on when the installation took place, between 2.5% and 3.5%. Almost half of the users said that it would suffice when the system was somehow financially worthwhile.

EuPD Research has calculated expectations that can actually be met. If an 8 kWp system installed in 2009 is retrofitted with a 5 kWh lithium-ion battery, this battery would have to cost about 4,200 € per kWh to meet the average end customer yield expectation of 2.68%. However, for customers the topics of self-consumption and independence from utilities are more important than returns. Customers are, according to the study, even willing to significantly reduce their yield expectations.

Yet it is in this “independence” from conventional electricity suppliers that the research analysts at EuPD Research see a decisive break in logic. With the aid of a calculating tool developed by the solar experts, they calculate that a sample system with a 5 kWh storage solution can cover between 65% and 75% of own energy consumption regardless of the load profile of the system operator. Without additional storage, the values already range between 43% and 54%. Waiving of 6% yields for an increased independence of 20% would thus seem contradictory.

Storage solutions have always been a calculation of comparisons says Markus Lohr. Thereby the economic feasibility of a PV system with storage is dependent on several factors such as daily load. The development of electricity prices also has a not to be underestimated influence on economic feasibility. In comparison to a grid connected PV system there is still a considerable amount of explanation needed on the subject of storage.

“The sale of PV systems will become more challenging and it will be up to market participants to find the right answers “, notes Markus Lohr, Chief Analyst at EuPD Research. Lohr sees similarities with solar thermal systems that can also be operated profitably but need considerably more explanation from an economic feasibility perspective. This could in the future also ring through for photovoltaic.

The findings in their entirety can be found in the study “Endcustomers in Focus – Revealing Needs for 2012 and beyond”. If you would like more information, please contact our press office.
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