From 2023 it will probably be much easier for homeowners to generate solar power on the roof. The federal government is planning a comprehensive tax exemption for operators of small and medium-sized solar power plants with an output of up to 30 kilowatts (kW). In the future, neither income tax nor sales tax should be incurred for this.
The tax changes still have to pass the Bundestag and the Bundesrat. In contrast, parts of the law to reform the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) have been in force since the end of July. The most important changes: Operators of new solar power systems get more money. And there are now two completely different tariffs for the solar power that you feed into the public grid. The experts at Stiftung Warentest have calculated how the reform of solar subsidies will affect the profitability of new photovoltaic systems. Result: A solar system on the roof will be worthwhile in most cases. Yields of 3 to 6 percent are possible over a period of 20 years, even with careful calculation.
Why the “Solar Power” study is worthwhile for you
- EEG reform. The Bundestag has passed the new solar subsidy: Since July 30, 2022 there has been more money for operators of new solar systems – especially for homeowners who feed their electricity completely into the public grid. We explain the details of the reform, who will benefit from it and how the new feed-in tariffs will affect the economics of the plants.
- Yields for systems with and without storage. Is a solar system worth it? Our tables and graphics show what returns are possible after the EEG reform and how, for example, different self-consumption shares affect. And with our solar calculator, you can calculate the costs, yields and returns of your photovoltaic system in detail.
- Tips for planning. The experts from Stiftung Warentest explain which roofs are suitable for generating solar power and what homeowners should pay attention to when buying and planning their system.
- Buy or rent. Our practical test shows: Offers for buying and renting a PV system are often difficult to compare, and profitability calculations by providers are often incomplete and incomprehensible.
- Steer. Complicated tax rules still apply to solar power producers. But from 2023, the federal government is planning a comprehensive tax exemption for small and medium-sized photovoltaic systems. We explain the planned new regulations – and what system drivers have to consider until then.
- legacy systems. Photovoltaic systems are no longer eligible for EEG funding after 20 years. We tell you what options the owners have to continue to operate their solar system profitably afterwards.
- PDF version. Unlocking the theme gives you access to a PDF of the online publication. It contains all content on the subject from Finanztest 3/2022 and 6/2022 and already takes the new legal situation into account – also for all example calculations.
Self-consumption or full feed-in
After the EEG reform, there are now two operator models with different remuneration rates:
- Self-consumption model. Owners who use some of the electricity they generate themselves will in future receive up to 8.2 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) that they feed into the public grid – as before in the year the system was commissioned and in the 20 following years. That is 25 percent more than before and initially provided for in the draft law.
- Full feeder model. If plant operators sell all of the electricity generated to the grid operator, they will receive up to 13 cents per kilowatt hour in the future – twice as much as before. Homeowners who have enough roof space for a relatively large system benefit from this in particular.
So owners of new solar systems have to make a decision: either they use part of the generated solar power themselves and thus save on electricity costs. Or they feed all of the electricity into the public grid. Then they get a significantly higher feed-in tariff, but don’t save a cent on their electricity bill. We have calculated what is cheaper for whom – depending on the size of the system, electricity price and possible self-consumption.
Two tariffs for solar power
Fee rates for feeding solar power into the public grid (cents per kWh).
Calculate costs and income carefully
Good yields are possible, but do not fall into the lap of homeowners. Although the feed-in tariff has been increased, solar systems have recently become more and more expensive. In order for the investment to be worthwhile, homeowners must pay attention to the price and carefully calculate the expected returns and costs of their system. The experts from Stiftung Warentest explain what acquisition costs and ongoing operating costs they have to reckon with, how high the income for the electricity feed-in and the electricity costs saved are, and which tax rules must be observed.
This is how photovoltaics pay off
Yields for systems with and without storage
We have calculated which yields and surpluses solar power producers achieve depending on the system price, electricity yield and self-consumption share for different operator models:
- Systems without storage with self-consumption and excess feed-in
- Systems with storage, self-consumption and excess feed-in
- Systems with full feed-in into the public power grid (without storage and self-consumption)
We use graphics to show how the share of self-consumption and the level and development of the electricity price affect the return.
Tips: In our extensive special on solar technology, we explain the possibilities of using solar energy. You can determine the probable yield of your planned solar system with our free solar calculator.