Don’t you just want to vomit every time a network CEO tells you you’re “greedy and selfish” for wanting to go off-grid?! Well, if you really want to be a pain in the side of your network CEO, read on…
Daniel Bannasch is an unassuming energy rebel from Middle Germany. In his backyard in Mannheim , Germany, he’s rigged up two solar panels on his back steps. But unlike a normal system, he plugs these ones directly into his wall socket.
This is Guerrilla Solar. Also known as ‘phantom’ or ‘plug-and-play solar’.
If you are fed up with your energy company – guerrilla solar could help you feel a bit better. Simply take any solar panel, connect a micro-inverter, and a standard electrical plug and you’re good to go. Just don’t tell the network I told you.
How it works
DC Solar panel + AC micro-inverter at 240V (Australian grid voltage) + Standard wall plug
WARNING: Remember, this is unregulated and illegal. Plus, messing with 240V can be dangerous if you’re not qualified. You should not do this unless you know what you’re doing AND you’re happy breaking the law. There may be other risks. And do not refer me as your inspiration!
If you keep your generation at lower levels than you’re households consumption, it will reduce your power bill like any other solar power system. But if you generation exceeds your consumption, be careful, your old-school meter could spin backwards (is that called stealing – I’m not sure?!), and the network company may be alerted to your phantom generation if you have a new-school smart meter.
A guerrilla solar movement
Daniel and his advocacy organisation, Metropol Solar want to get 1000’s of these 250W systems plugged in throughout Germany. Perfect for renters, or for your apartment balcony. It’s his mischievous way of proving a point to the networks that regulations on connections are still cumbersome, and that solar should be viewed like any other appliance.
Elsewhere, Plugged Solar is selling guerrilla solar kits directly to customers in the US.
Guerrilla solar proves how solar has reached the point where it should be viewed as any other appliance. Why is solar that different from an air-conditioner? Isn’t it funny that solar endures an expensive connection process (approx A$600 in NSW) when it reduces network losses and can in some cases provide peak load savings. An air conditioner on the other hand adds about $7000 per unit to the grid capital base, but you can install 10 in your home and not even tell the network (isn’t that correct Matthew Wright?).
Memo to networks: Give the people what they want!
The comments from Jemena’s CEO Paul Adams last week show how completely out of touch he is with his customers. This lack of respect for his customer base is a culture which can only grow within boardrooms of monopolies which deserve to be disrupted.
Paul Adams: “The grid is of so much value here. Why don’t you want to share your energy with your neighbours? Why don’t you want to do something on a community and social basis, why are you so greedy and selfish?”
Uummm, well Mr Adams, last time I checked you weren’t providing any mechanism to show why the grid is of value, or to facilitate ‘sharing of energy’ with our neighbours. Clearly, under leadership like this, Jemena is setting themselves up for failure. The networks have a clear choice:
A) create new customer value. For example: introduce cost-reflective price incentives to support the grid and facilitate sharing and trade of distributed generation. This will ensure customers see great value in remaining connected, preventing grid defection.
B) Or they can choose to fight the people, increase dissatisfaction, and ultimately lose people.
The next ten years will prove interesting no doubt!
Interesting aside: Mannheim is the city where the bicycle, the tractor and the automobile were invented! You’ve got to love German engineering!