Feed-in stop in Upper Austria – self-consumption as the solution

In December 2023, it was announced through the media that in many areas in Upper Austria, feed-in of solar power might no longer be possible in the future – the solution lies in increasing self-consumption.

In recent years, photovoltaics has experienced significant growth in Upper Austria. As a result, many households and businesses have invested in photovoltaic systems to use sustainable energy sources. However, the region is now facing a challenge – the feed-in stop for photovoltaic systems in many areas. Due to the increased supply of solar power and limited grid capacities, the region must deal with a feed-in stop for photovoltaics. This means that surplus electricity can no longer be fed into the grid. This particularly affects PV systems up to 21 kWp, which are favored by the Renewable Expansion Act.

Why Focus on Self-Utilization of PV Power

Grid expansion is costly, bureaucratic, and often delayed by environmental regulations – while each aspect has its justification. However, it is evident that, according to Netz Oberösterreich, most reconstruction works can only be completed by 2025. This poses a potential two-year period for new photovoltaic system owners in seven major regions in Upper Austria where either the PV system cannot be connected to the grid, or the full capacity of their photovoltaic system cannot be used.

Therefore, it is in the interest of (future) photovoltaic system owners to maximize the use of self-generated electricity on-site. Moreover, because feeding into the grid could increasingly face obstacle due to the expansion status of the public power network.

© Netz Oberösterreich

Advantages of Self-Consumption of Photovoltaic Power

Grid capacities are preserved by consuming more photovoltaic power at the place of production. This reduces the strain on the power network, smoothing out load and feed-in peaks. This decreases the urgent need for expensive grid expansion, as individual small substations are not excessively burdened.

The most significant point, especially in times of rising energy and electricity prices, is the independence derived from maximizing one's energy source utilization. Self-consumption of photovoltaic energy allows for harnessing the benefits of photovoltaics to the fullest. On sunny days, the generated power can be used directly, leading to a sustainable and cost-effective energy supply. A significant lever can be photovoltaic heating, which increases the self-consumption of a photovoltaic system from 30% to 75 or 80%! This is an increase that would be much more expensive to achieve with other self-consumption optimizations.

It is important to emphasize the resulting economic benefits: Increased self-consumption enables households and businesses to reduce their electricity costs and to save other energy sources for heating water or space heating by using photovoltaic heat. In other words, each kilowatt-hour of self-used PV power for heating saves one kilowatt-hour of another energy source (gas, oil, pellets, etc.) in the evening and night hours.

A Way Out of the Challenge

The feed-in stop for photovoltaics in Upper Austria poses a challenge that can be overcome by the increased self-consumption of photovoltaic power – also for heating purposes. Utilizing this renewable energy source in combination with continuously adjustable photovoltaic heating not only offers economic advantages but also contributes to strengthening the region's energy independence and reducing environmental impacts. It is time to shift the focus to self-consumption and collaboratively shape a sustainable energy future for Upper Austria – and beyond.

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