The debate about simplified conditions for balcony power plants is one chapter richer: Together with the YouTuber Andreas Schmitz (known as Akkudoktor), the association Balkon.Solar eV wrote a petition to the German Bundestag, which is published on the parliament’s petition platform under the number 146290 is. The petition is supported by other renewable energy associations.
The petition went online at the end of March and gathered 25,000 signers in one week. After 14 days it reached 42,000 co-signers. Unlike non-binding demands and open letters on platforms such as change.org, an official Bundestag petition has an impact on politics: as soon as the quorum of 50,000 co-signers has been reached, the topic is put on the agenda of the German Bundestag’s petition committee and the petitioner (the person who created the petition) is heard. The petition is already one of the more successful on the platform of the Bundestag – many petitions reach fewer than 1000 co-signers. And there is still time to reach the quorum: The signing period runs until April 27th.
The petition’s demands are not new and are in line with those of other actors who have spoken out in recent months. The industry association VDE published a position paper in early 2023 in which it advocates a power limit of 800 watts, simplified registration and the toleration of reverse meters as long as the network operators have not yet replaced them with reverse-blocking digital meters. The petition also takes up these demands and calls for specific changes to the “National Ordinance on the Verification of Electrotechnical Properties of Energy Systems (NELEV)” to increase the limit from 600 to 800 watts. The Market Master Data Register Ordinance is also to be changed in order to create a simplified registration procedure for balcony power plants. Changes to the Electricity Grid Access Ordinance, the Metering Point Operation Act and the Electricity Grid Fees Ordinance are required so that backward running electricity meters are permitted.
Changes for Renters
The second focus is on obstacles that tenants are currently struggling with. So far, the apartment owners’ consent has been required to install a balcony power plant on the balcony of a rented apartment because it is a structural change. The legislature already provides for privileged construction measures that no longer require approval. The Home Ownership Act currently lists measures for accessibility, charging devices for e-vehicles, burglary protection and fast internet connections. The petition calls for balcony power plants to be included as a privileged measure in the WEG and BGB. Blockades by landlords and owners’ meetings would then no longer be possible.
The changes to the WEG are also not new demands and have also been in politics for some time. As early as November 10, 2022, the Ministers of Justice of the federal states in the Conference of Justice Ministers called on the Federal Minister of Justice Buschmann to include balcony power plants as exceptions in the WEG. Since then, the ball has been in the Justice Department, but nothing has happened yet. In response to a request from heise online, the ministry’s press office wrote in February: “The Federal Ministry of Justice has taken note of the decision made by the Ministers of Justice of the federal states and will expand the catalog of privileged measures under Section 20 (2) of the Home Ownership Act and Check Section 554 of the Civil Code. This will require close coordination with the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection. No information can be given at this time about the timeline for any changes to the law.”
The published petition has been in the planning for months, as the association Balkon.Solar reports to heise online. The submission was associated with hurdles. In the meantime, the Bundestag administration had informed the petitioner that a petition could only be formulated for one law at a time. After a member of the Bundestag intervened in the case, this representation was corrected, the petition was only intended to be assigned to one department. The authors prevailed and the petition was able to appear as originally planned.