Monthly balance settlement, gross settlement? How should we operate our solar system?

In relation to the future of the net and gross settlement of the residential solar panel system in our country for now, several details are uncertain. We are now looking into how we can turn the situation to our advantage in the case of which settlement methods.

We immediately divide the question into two: what will happen to those who have already installed their solar system, and what will happen to those who want to invest in solar energy last year or now. Because many people used to with state support bought their solar panel system, so the question of return may be of most concern to those who install their own small household-sized power plant on the roof of their home.

What is a monthly balance settlement?

The government introduced the concept of the monthly balance to the public last year, but it is still an unknown concept for many. What exactly is that? The monthly settlement is based on the annual settlement. The essence of the annual balance settlement is that we have to settle with the service provider the difference between the amount of energy fed into the network and that taken out of the network in one year. If less energy was fed into the network than was purchased, only the existing difference must be paid to the service provider at the current tariff, and in case of overproduction, the net fee for the energy produced can be reclaimed. The latter is, of course, without system usage fees. In the case of the monthly balance, the difference lies in the fact that the time interval is much shorter, not a year, but a month.

It is good to know that, according to the currently effective regulation, the reclaim is tax-free under an annual excess production of 12,000 kWh. Furthermore, excess production cannot be carried over to the next annual accounting period.

As for the balance settlement, it currently seems certain that the existing balance contracts can remain in force for a maximum of 10 years, and in the case of new installations, it will no longer be possible to choose a balance settlement from January 1, 2024, it is expected to be replaced by gross settlement.

What is the difference between net and gross accounting?

The difference between the two settlements is that, in the case of a balance settlement, the difference between the purchase and the feed-in is formed, and the amount thus obtained is settled with the service provider. In case of gross settlement and no balance is created, but the total amount of purchased and fed back electricity is settled separately with the service provider at a different fee.

Will band pricing also reach residential consumers?

Details of the new (gross) settlement system, which will enter into force on January 1, 2024, are still unclear. It can be read from the decree that from 2024 the government can introduce a model in which the system usage fee will also change. But there is also an unusual element in the settlement of the electricity fee, namely that the tariff can change even within a day. It should be mentioned that in the case of non-residential consumers, this already exists for those with market electricity contracts.

Starting next year, according to the decree, three time zones may enter into force for residential solar panels that enter into a contract with the service provider at that time. There will be a daytime peak period from 6am to 5pm, another peak period from 5pm to 10pm, and a so-called valley period from 10pm to 6am. That is, for solar systems that are settled gross, there may be a price difference between the periods, the values of which are not yet known.

How can we store our produced solar energy without batteries?

In order to further increase the efficiency of the solar system in the case of monthly and gross billing, we can choose from two solutions: we can at least partially adjust our consumption habits to the production periods of the solar system, or we can use the battery to store a small part of the surplus from these periods.

Nowadays, it is perhaps one of the most obvious solutions for increasing consumption within the day charging the electric car. This is a good opportunity, the question is whether keeping the e-car at home during the day fits into our lifestyle.

The other possibility, which we can take advantage of immediately, is the production and storage of domestic hot water in a boiler. With solar panels, we can completely heat domestic hot water during the day from early spring to late fall, so that we still have plenty of renewable energy that can be freely used for other purposes. The advantage of this method is that it does not require a multimillion-dollar investment, like a battery, yet with the solution we can even reduce the natural gas consumption and direct environmental pollution of our property.

Of course, we can also choose battery storage for production storage, but the return on this is difficult to quantify today without knowing the details of the gross settlement.

How can we further increase the immediate use of the produced solar energy?

If we can, we optimize our daily use for the power generation periods! The washing machine, dryer, dishwasher, and air conditioner are just some of the household appliances that we can schedule to operate when our solar panel production just covers their consumption. But the same logic can work for almost any household appliance, the running of which is not important to happen when we are at home. Taking advantage of the possibilities offered by the ever-growing smart home systems, we can control which consumers are prioritized. Of course, we can't adjust all consumption to this, for example lighting at night or watching TV, but we can schedule many devices in such a way that we can further increase the level of financial savings and energy conservation, which is becoming increasingly important.

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