Photovoltaic: what to know before diving


DR Systaic France

Photovoltaics is the green investment in fashion. But beware of the traps, we can not do anything so far ... Our advice for a thoughtful and effective approach ...

"A financial investment more interesting than the livret A", "Earn money with your roof!", Commercial offers and other home solicitations are multiplying to sell photovoltaic, promising regular income over 20 years.

Thanks to EDF's particularly attractive redemption tariff (read on the right "Which sensor for which use") still guaranteed for installations made until 2012 and thanks to the tax credit, the installation of photovoltaic panels has become a real business who does not suffer the crisis. For the past two years, the French fleet has experienced an unprecedented development with a connected capacity of 135 MW in the first half of 2009, an increase of 265% in one year! * Still far from the objectives of the Grenelle for 2020 set at 5 400 MW installed .

Why such a boost to this sector of the future?

French industrial know-how and its research enjoy a certain renown, but international competition is tough and needs are growing. And this sector could create nearly 15,000 jobs by 2012. On the other hand, photovoltaics integrated with buildings is a national particularity that the government favors by making it more financially attractive. Finally, the Grenelle de l'environnement intends to impose less "energy-consuming" buildings.

By 2020, new buildings called Bepos (positive energy building) will be expected to produce more energy than they consume. It will therefore most often install photovoltaic sensors to achieve these performances. France benefits from free solar energy in large quantities. On average, according to the Renewable Energy Union (SER), 10 square meters of photovoltaic panels produce 1,031 kWh per year (from 900 kWh per year in Alsace to about 1,300 kWh per year in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, and up to 1,450 kWh per year overseas).

Attention, many companies, sniffing the good vein, have rushed into the sector

Some are created for the occasion and disappear very quickly. Their salesmen then sell only tax credit, or even credit at all by dangling a source of complementary income ... Because it is thus - and not as a producer of "clean" energy - that one lures the candidate to photovoltaics.

From an accounting point of view, the individual has indeed every interest in selling all of its production to EDF, since the price is 5 times higher than the one at which he buys his electricity. Photovoltaic is therefore for the moment a good deal. It is still necessary that the installation provides the power expected in the long term. Hence the interest of choosing a solid company, already able to properly install and maintain during the 20 years of production.

The choice of a photovoltaic solution requires a real reflection

Better to contact QualiPV professionals (roofers for installing modules, electricians for wiring installation). More than 4,500 companies committed to this quality approach in September 2009. That's good, but the workforce has almost doubled compared to the end of 2008. A rather rapid increase so that all companies are really at the level.

The commercial approach of the professional must be transparent

The time factor plays a crucial role in the financial study. Comparing the price of the photovoltaic system according to the kWp **, supply + installation, is not enough. Between the day the installment is paid to the roofer and the day the tax credit is applied, it may take up to two years! Time of delivery of equipment, waiting time for connection to the network (in some regions, it takes several months to wait), difference between the date of declaration to the Treasury and the inclusion of the tax credit add up.

Some installers then offer a loan "intermediate" to avoid the cash worries, whose fees and interest are weighing down the rating, which already amounts to an average of more than 20,000 euros! Finally, other expenses are to be taken into account, such as those related to the connection (trench, cables, meter) and the maintenance of the panels ...

Choosing photovoltaics should not be solely motivated by the financial aspect

It is also necessary to evaluate the environmental impact. Asking for the origin of the product is part of this process. France does not produce enough sensors and has to import them from Germany, but sometimes from China too ... What will be the yield of panels of unknown origin, after 16, 18 years? On the recycling side, the sector is structured at European level and research should find an "ecologically correct" solution to store the electricity produced. For those who do not choose to benefit from the bargain supertarifs before 2012, they will be able to count in the coming years on quality products even better integrated, and certainly cheaper.

Which sensor for which use

Solar thermal collectors convert the radiation into heat via a heat transfer fluid, for domestic hot water or heating.
Photovoltaic sensors convert solar energy into electricity. Rooftop cells are silicon-based electronic components capable of producing direct current. An inverter is then used to change this AC current (230 V) exploitable by the network. ErDF is committed to purchasing the electricity produced for 20 years at an attractive price: 60.176 cents per kWh for facilities benefiting from the integration bonus, and 32.823 cents per kWh for others (except in Corsica and DOM: 43.764 cents per kWh). These rates would, at the time of writing, be valid for contracts signed until 2012. After ...

Both systems benefit from the tax credit, but the zero-rate loan only concerns solar collectors. In France, with equal surface area and identical orientation, a photovoltaic panel offers almost 7 times less power than a solar water heater system and generally costs 5 times more.

Testimonial: "Visit other facilities first"

Low-energy housing issue, Emmanuel Launay goes all the way. In his very well insulated house (2008) in Grabels (34), he installed solar collectors, a heat pump, a high efficiency stove and 25 m2 of photovoltaic panels (Apex BP Solar installed by Fast Services). "I looked for a QualiPV installer close to my home (practical in case of problems), who made me meet several customers.The company took care of all the steps and the construction took only a few months The Crédit coopératif loan for all solar installations will be repaid in 8 years through the sale of electricity.

The first year, I already received a check of 2,000 euros. My advice: be well informed, do not take for cash the first offer tempting. Visit other facilities, compare quotes and services from multiple companies. Choosing the photovoltaic is an ecological act, the high rate of redemption by EDF and the helpers only support this approach. "

Good to know: How to benefit from the integration bonus?

The draft order of September 2009 indicates that the system must ensure "the closed and the cover and [that] follows the plan of the roof". It specifies that it also provides the "sealing function". And that "after installation, the disassembly of the photovoltaic generator can not be done without damaging the waterproofing or making the building unfit for use". These requirements are expected to tighten in the next few months. We should then witness a great technical shift. But, to date, the industrial offer does not seem completely finalized yet. To be continued.