Is renting solar panels an economical alternative?

Hot, hot, hot, solar! At a time when the price of energy gives us cold sweats when opening our bills, the production of electricity by solar panels is of interest to more and more French people. There were 184,150 installations at the start of 2022, i.e. 3.5 times more than in 2019! This enthusiasm is all the greater since since 2017, it has been possible to consume 100% of the electricity produced where, previously, it was entirely fed back into the network and bought by EDF.

Professionals in the sector are on the rise, such as Oscaro Power, or Beem, which offer solar kits to install yourself to save even more on your equipment. Alternative: the rental of its solar panels. This is one of the formulas proposed by Otovo, a Norwegian company specializing in residential solar panels. In addition to the sale and installation of solar panels for cash, it also offers rental over 20 years. Jean Rosado, general manager France of Otovo explains to 20 Minutes what you need to know before equipping yourself.

Who is Otovo?

Otovo, which is historically a Norwegian company, is present in thirteen European markets and is dedicated solely to residential solar. Otovo France was born from the acquisition by Otovo of In Sun We Trust in 2019. We are the only solar player with such a geographical footprint. Our sales increased by 80% between the first quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022. The company doubled in size last year. This should still be the case this year.

Isn’t solar reserved for geographical areas with strong sunshine, such as the south of France?

No. The Netherlands, for example, is the most mature European market, with one in four homes equipped with solar panels. In France, we are in one house in fifty. More than ever, the solar potential in Europe is gigantic.

What is this delay due to?

There is no single reason. In 2015, there were hardly any rooftop solar panels in the Netherlands. A political will, but also a cultural one around environmental concerns, has pushed people to massively equip themselves.

Regarding France, a 2016 Ademe report estimated that national production if all the roofs of the country were equipped would be 265 TW (terawatts). This corresponds to a quarter of all the energy we would need in 2050! There is probably a happy medium to be found. However, the law on renewable energies which has just been passed by the National Assembly contains absolutely nothing on residential solar energy! We can only regret that residential solar is the great forgotten energy orientation of the country.

What is the average budget for a turnkey installation?

A classic installation of 3 kWp (kilowatt-peak) will cost an average of 7,000 euros in cash and only cost 55 euros to rent, an ideal formula for equipping yourself without having to invest heavily.

Yes, but that’s 13,200 euros over 20 years of rental, almost double the purchase price, is it really interesting?

It is always more interesting to buy. Renting is peace of mind. This allows our customers not to go into debt with a purchase, while benefiting from state aid.

Otovo offers, in addition to the purchase, the rental of solar panels for 20 years. – Otovo

For 20 years, the installation is guaranteed (10 years for the battery, if the installation includes it). For its part, Otovo France remains the owner of the equipment. But at the end of the rental, it is possible to buy back its installation for a few hundred euros.

Buy solar panels at the end of their life?

No, the lifespan of solar panels is currently around 30 to 40 years.

What type of state aid are you referring to?

First, there is a self-consumption premium. It is paid once a year, over 5 years, and depends on the size of the installation. In total, it oscillates between 1,500 and 3,000 euros. This therefore amounts to an aid of a few hundred euros per year.

There is also the buy-back contract by EDF. Concerning it, I don’t like to call it “aid”, because it is about the resale of the surplus electricity produced. When we produce solar energy, we first consume the electricity that comes from the roof. If we consume less than what is produced, we can resell this energy for 20 years, at 10 cents per kWh.

You mention surplus. Can an installation of solar panels cover all my needs?

No, we can only consume what is produced at the moment “T”. We always need several resources, an energy mix. The self-consumption rate will cover on average 30 to 50% of electricity needs.

Even who associates storage batteries with their solar panels to take advantage of their own electricity after dark?

Even with batteries, one cannot achieve self-sufficiency.

Concretely, how does it work for the potential customer of Otovo?

Our site offers remote support, with a simulator. In two clicks, the user will have an idea of ​​the price of his installation and the savings he will make, then obtain an initial quote.

30 to 50% of a pavilion's electricity needs can be covered by solar energy.
30 to 50% of a pavilion’s electricity needs can be covered by solar energy. – Otovo

We pre-select the material that is used by our installers. This choice is generally concentrated around three or four brands of panels and as many for inverters. Then we use a network of local users, checking that they have all the necessary RGE aggregations (the official “Recognized guarantor of the environment” label).

To be competitive, we have a reverse auction system: our software can calculate all quotes from all installers in your area who work for us. Automatically, we choose the lowest quote.

It will be the choice of the lowest bidder, often of lower quality…

Absolutely not ! We are obsessed with quality. This will not be to the detriment of the service or the products.

How long does it take to recoup your investment?

It takes 10 to 15 years, in France, to make its installation profitable. It depends, of course, on the quality of the installation, with standard products and premium products. In the north of France we will be closer to 15 years than to 10 years. According to Solar Index, an average installation of twelve panels: allows savings of 38,000 euros over 30 years. It’s profitable everywhere, even in the north of France.

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