Current figures indicate that KfW’s market incentive program is off to a slow start. How important do you think these kinds of market incentive programs are for instigating sustainable growth? Why has KfW funding not seen much demand up to now?
Initial costs are always very high in new technologies, which is why I think that market incentive programs are a sensible idea. The art is realizing when the market can cope on its own. I think that demand has been low so far because end users are initially hesitant and cautious. Calculating all of the costs and comparing them to the benefits is a really complicated process. Today’s consumers are well informed about battery life span, how often batteries have to be changed in the calculation period and how this affects costs.
Why do you think some customers are already interested in purchasing an energy storage system for their photovoltaic installation?
If you compare current feed-in tariffs for photovoltaics to current electricity prices, you’ll see why on-site consumption is worthwhile. Luckily, there are always innovators and early adopters who dare to dive into the deep end, even if the waters haven’t been properly tested yet. A manufacturer once said to me that the first customers are fully aware that there isn’t much in the way of security, e.g. in the form of performance guarantees. But instead, they can say later that they were amongst the first consumers. But not many consumers think this way.
How do you think prices will develop and how will this change the market for photovoltaic installations and storage systems?
Photovoltaic and battery costs are sinking, which normally happens when the market is developing, research is intensifying and there’s more competition around. But it takes more than price reductions to convince customers in the long term. Performance guarantees are the next important step, showing consumers that the storage system will last for many years.
Are there no manufacturer guarantees on the market at the moment?
There’s still no market standard, which means that some manufacturers guarantee a certain number of charge cycles, some a number of years and some don’t even mention battery life span. The comprehensive concept of total cost of ownership plays an important role in the purchase of an energy storage system. Apart from purchase prices, it takes into account other factors, including quality, security, efficiency and durability.