Current regulations and subsidies have favoured small-scale ownership of photovoltaic systems in Sweden. This is shown in a new study from Chalmers University of Technology. To promote the construction of larger systems and solar-as-a-service, changes in regulations are required. Such changes in regulations can contribute to the national goal of reaching one hundred percent renewable electricity production by the year 2040. In recent years, the market for self-produced solar energy has exploded in Sweden. The reason is, among other things, high electricity prices and the ongoing climate change. But for those who do not have a roof of their own or the financial conditions to invest in a solar system, the alternatives are limited.
“If we are to be able to increase the amount of solar energy in Sweden, we must ensure that more people have access to solar photovoltaics, not just those with detached houses who can afford to buy a system”, says Amanda Bankel, doctoral student at the division of Innovation and R&D Management at the Department of Technology Management and Economics, Chalmers University of Technology.
The new study by Amanda Bankel and Ingrid Mignon, Associate Professor at the same division, has been published in the scientific journal Energy Policy. It shows that there is a lack of agreement in how researchers, policymakers and firms view solar business models. For instance, “community solar” business models have received much attention in research and policy at, for example, EU level. Community solar means that many people come together to produce, share, and consume renewable energy locally.
However, such business models are hardly found among solar firms on the Swedish market. This does not imply that there are no energy communities in Sweden – only that firms do not see the need to design their business models for these customers. If Swedish policymakers want to increase the amount of solar energy through energy communities, they must also understand how firms that offer photovoltaic systems reason and what motivates them to specifically target energy communities, says Amanda Bankel.
Other solutions that make it possible for customers to buy solar energy as a service through, for example, leasing, are also scarce in Sweden, despite having had a major impact in other countries, such as the US.
“Swedish policy instruments have favoured small-scale systems where the person who consumes the solar energy is the same one who buys and owns the system. Hence, it is not surprising that we see many firms offering these solutions and only a few that are aimed at people who do not want, or have the opportunity, to invest in their own system.”
“If Sweden is to achieve its goal of 100 percent renewable electricity production by 2040, policymakers should ensure that more people have access to solar photovoltaics by promoting different types of solutions”, says Amanda Bankel.
About community solar
Community solar involves many people coming together to produce, share, and consume renewable energy locally. They are described by the Swedish Energy Agency as an effective way to meet the challenges of energy transition.
Leasing of solar photovoltaic means that you as a homeowner rent a photovoltaic system that is located on your own roof and owned by a leasing provider. Instead of making a large investment upfront, you pay a monthly fee to the firm that owns, operates, and maintains the system.
Photo: Johan Bodell, Daniel Karlsson
About the study
The study “Solar business models from a firm perspective – an empirical study of the Swedish market” is published in the scientific journal Energy Policy, volume 166, July 2022: