Allow us to produce 300 W of electricity with a small kit of solar panels to put on our terrace? This is the bet of Beem Energy with a product sold for 780 euros, to be installed yourself, and capable of providing for our basic electricity needs (refrigerator, lamps, computer, etc.). Four years after the creation of the Nantes start-up, has this concept won over? And how does Beem Energy see the evolution of the renewable energy market, when electricity prices have jumped by 15% since February 1, 2023? Ralph Feghali, co-founder and CEO of the Nantes start-up, answered questions from 20 minutes.
How has your business developed over the past few years?
In four years, our solar panel kit has won over 10,000 households who have equipped themselves with them. Our sales network has grown. In addition to the Internet, our kit can be found at Leroy Merlin, Boulanger, Nature & Découverte. A sign of the times, the brands came to us, we didn’t need to canvass them.
We find that the current trend is very promising. In the course of 2022, we have multiplied the number of households that we equip by fifteen each month. The fundamentals are amplified. A survey we conducted with OpinionWay* confirms this: 60% of French people would like to produce their own energy.
You offer solar panel kits that ultimately produce only part of the electricity needed for household consumption. Why this choice ?
For each house or apartment, there is what is called a consumption “heel”. This corresponds to all the equipment that cannot be compressed: the refrigerator, the freezer, the VMC… The objective of our kit, which produces 300 W of electricity, is to erase this heel, without you has to ask a lot of questions, with electricity produced at home, which is low carbon. If we add a computer, a desk lamp… this can also be enough to cover the needs of a person who telecommutes. The idea is, for the price of a smartphone, to cover 15% of the electricity consumption of the home.
Isn’t that a little limited as a solar installation?
If our customers want to expand their installation, they can add a second, then a third kit to produce up to 1 kW of electricity. For an even larger installation, we can help them find the right partners, this time to install solar panels on the roof. However, the observation is that this last step is too high for many people. We want to take them by the hand to go step by step. Beem has already equipped 10,000 homes. 30% of them then want to go further.
Many people would be reluctant to install panels on the roof, which are expensive, of course, but also for aesthetic reasons. Is it a brake on the adoption of solar?
Yes, according to our study, 12% of those questioned consider that these installations are not aesthetic and 10% that the work takes too long. It’s an emotional brake. People don’t want to alter their roof. The concept of solar energy appeals to them, but not that of the solar panel. They also have questions about the consequences of a move.
This confirms us in the concept of the basic kit, with four panels of only 70 x 70 cm per side (for 5.6 kg each) to be installed yourself, which we defend. Two square meters, ideally facing south, are enough. This kit can therefore find its place on a facade, in a garden, on a terrace or a large balcony and is no more complicated to assemble than an Ikea piece of furniture. You can even, if you wish, take it on vacation with you: it fits in the trunk of a car!
No risk of theft?
No, it only happened once out of 10,000 installs.
Are there not constraints, however, to connect this kit to its electrical network?
No, it includes a micro-inverter and a box that sends information to the application and works with the Linky meter. Simply plug the kit into an electrical outlet. The current produced is automatically directed to the nearest consumption points. Result, seen from the counter, it is as if the devices were disconnected. In the case of an installation that would possibly be oversized, the current produced would be reinjected into the network. Our users have become accustomed to optimizing their use, such as running their washing machine when necessary. Our application helps them by providing them with an estimate of the electricity produced by time slot.
In designing our solar kit, we wanted to think like Apple, to reassure consumers, with a simple product, accessible to all, owners or tenants, which does not necessarily have to be installed on the roof, and which can be placed even.
Do we benefit from state aid if we have one?
No, in the solar sector, a significant part of the subsidies is intended to finance the break. This is a good thing for products that are worth between 7,000 and 10,000 euros. Our product typology is profitable quickly, without subsidies.
If I live in the north of France, which is less sunny by nature, is it worth it for me to equip myself?
Worth it everywhere. In ten years, the price of a solar panel has been divided by ten. At the same time, more than 20 million households saw the basic price of their electricity jump by 15% in February. We have ” beamers » distributed throughout France. It is obviously more profitable to equip yourself in the South, where you will amortize your kit in 5 to 6 years (100 euros in savings made per year approximately), than in the North, where 7 to 8 years will be necessary. (130 euros savings). There is no doubt that the rise in electricity prices will increase. For its part, the climate emergency will not slow down.
*From February 15 to 16, 2023, on a sample of 1,063 people representative of a representative sample of the population aged 18 and over.