A zero-up-front business model is set to enable small and medium-sized businesses in a German town to install rooftop solar PV systems at no initial cost.

A collaboration between local utility Stadtwerke Bitterfeld-Wolfen, solar developer and installer ISM Energy and PV module manufacturer Hanwha Q Cells, the ‘Contracting for Solar Systems’ model has already seen a local bakery install a 9.9 kWp system. 

The Burchert Bakery’s installation features 31 PV modules and is expected to cover around one quarter of its energy needs. The bakery will pay a monthly fee to the utility and will be able to sell any surplus power to the grid.

Stadtwerke Bitterfeld-Wolfen will serve as the contract partner for each project and will bear all of the investment costs for procurement, installation, operation, service and maintenance, as well as providing insurance for the system.

ISM Energy will design, optimize, procure, install, operate, service and maintain the system, and will install additional energy storage on request, while Hanwha Q Cells will supply PV modules developed at its Centre for Technology, Innovation and Quality located in Bitterfeld-Wolfen.

In 2017, the three companies installed several projects on residential buildings in the region, and more are planned for this year. They now aim to expand their model to include commercial customers.

Christian Dubiel, managing director of Stadtwerke Bitterfeld-Wolfen, said the scheme “is very interesting for enterprises and building owners who would like to sustainably reduce their energy costs, but who do not necessarily have the funds for own capital investment”.

He added that the utility was offering customers “the next opportunity to participate in the energy transition with smart energy solutions”.

Tobias Schmidt, CEO of ISM Group, said the model was “beneficial for all parties involved”, while Mario Schulte, account manager with Hanwha Q CELLS, added that the model “works perfectly” and is “a model of success not only in our region, but also throughout Germany and Europe.”

Image: town of Bitterfeld-Wolfen by Joeb07/Wikimedia Commons