Toshiba to take on utilities with PV in German residential market

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Toshiba Corporation has announced that it will market an onsite consumption solar power system for apartment buildings in Germany from March next year.

The system is designed to operate independently of the grid and sell electricity directly to consumers at a cheaper rate than electricity sold by utility companies, taking advantage of recent moves to deregulate the German electricity market.

Toshiba claims that the onsite generated electricity will be cheaper than power purchased from utilities as well as arguing that the new model will bypass the need for PV plant owners to rely on the incentive of the feed-in tariff. As well as putting Toshiba in direct competition with utilities in the residential electricity market, the company expects the onsite consumption model to ease the supply-demand burden on the grid.

The German branch of Toshiba International Europe, which has its headquarters in the UK, will begin by fitting 3MW of the new PV-based system to apartment blocks in two towns in Baden-Wuerttemberg, south-west Germany. The initial 3MW installed will serve 750 residents of apartment blocks owned by German real estate company GAGFAH.

Toshiba International Europe will own and operate the PV plants, which will be funded and owned by a group of pension funds. The company intends to spread adoption of the system from the initial 3MW to 100MW by 2016.

The ultimate goal for Toshiba, according to the company, will be to offer a self-sufficient model for onsite consumption. However, the new system will initially not be fitted with energy storage at night or on days of low solar irradiance when the solar power generation capacity is not operating. Instead, Toshiba will purchase electricity from the wholesale market to meet customer demand and sell it to households at the same rate as PV generated electricity. Toshiba intends to introduce stationary battery storage to the system at a later date, to be integrated with Toshiba’s Smart Grid Micro Energy Management System (μEMS), which will monitor and manage use.

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