Solar Panels: Prices and the Prosumer Rates
Concerned about the environment? Do you want to install solar panels on your home? This energy guide explains everything you need to know: the difference between photovoltaic panels and solar thermal panels, their prices, and also, what is the prosumer rate and what is a feed-in meter. We also share with you some supplier tariffs suitable for solar panel owners.
How Solar Panels Work?
A solar panel converts sunlight or the sun's heat into electricity, hot water, or as general source of heating. It operates using solar energy, one of the most abundant sources of renewable energy. Other sources of renewable energy include: Wind turbines, hydropower, and biomass.
With enough solar panels, you can be completely independent from the public electricity grid, producing your own green and ecological energy.
In the market, we have two types of solar panels:
- Solar Thermal Panels
- Photovoltaic Panels
We will explain what each type is used for and how they work.
Solar Thermal Panels
Solar thermal panels capture the sun's heat to produce domestic hot water as well as heating your home. They are usually combined with a solar water heater.
The solar thermal panel is equipped with a sensor that collects up to 90% of the sun's light rays, and instantly transforms them into heat. The heat is transported by a "heat transfer fluid" to the water tank serving as storage space. The water in the tank will be heated, and the heat transfer fluid flows back to its source to start the cycle again.
In general, if it is overcast or something was blocking the sun, the solar thermal panel would have a back up system such a gas or oil boiler, or a heat pump, allowing you to continue having hot water all the time.
It is estimated that you can cover upto 70% of your domestic hot water needs with a solar thermal system.
The Photovoltaic Panels
Photovoltaic panels capture sunlight and transform it into green electricity, thanks to the photovoltaic solar cells. The main advantage of this solar panel model is that as long as there is sunlight, electricity is produced. So you can be sure that you are producing electricity constantly, even in winter, and you can use the electricity to power anything in your house, not just for water heating.
There are two types of photovoltaic panels:
- Monocrystalline panel: They are black in color, most efficient in energy production, but also more expensive.
- Polycrystalline panel: They are blue in color, less efficient in energy production, but also less expensive.
The choice between the two panels is based on price, space, and aesthetics. Depending on your budget, the polycrystalline panels are less expensive. Also, depending on the space you have, the monocrystalline panels are more efficient and therefore require less panels which means less space. And finally, if neither space nor budget is an issue, then it comes down to choosing which color suits you best, blue or black.
If your aim is to cover all of your electricity consumption with solar energy, you will need to cover around 20-30 m2 of your roof with panels. However, this can be costly, so the majority of households install only a few solar panels to offset part of their electric consumption.
Regardless of the type of photovoltaic panels you have, we recommend that you invest in a home battery as well. The battery allows you to store the electricity produced by your panels in case you are producing more than your consumption at the moment, and also to use any stored electricity when the sun goes down. This will reduce your dependency on the public energy grid.
What is the difference between a solar thermal panel and a photovoltaic panel? In summary, the solar thermal panel transforms the heat of the sun into heat energy while the photovoltaic panel transforms the sunlight into electricity.
Solar Panel Installation in Belgium, do you Need a Permit?
Like many countries, solar panel regulation is regional. In the table below, we will show you the different rules and measures established in each region.
|Brussels||No permit required if:
What is the price of Solar Thermal and Photovoltaic Panels?
The price of a solar panel depends on two main criteria:
- The type of panel it is: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, or thermal
- Power rating of the panel expressed in kWp (peak kilowatt), keeping in mind that the higher it is, the more efficient the panel is
In addition to this, you will need to take into account the cost of installation as well as any development costs relating to your roof or house.
However, it is important to specify that the prices of solar panels have fallen considerably in recent years, which has made it possible to democratize this renewable energy source.
Below, we have a table showing an estimate of prices by model of solar panels, installation not included.
The prices shown are for a 3.5 kWp system which would cover the energy needs of an average household of 4 persons.
|Type of Solar Panel||Price for a 3.5 kWp (€)|
|Monocrystalline Panels||+/- 8,500|
|Polycrystalline Panels||+/- 6,500|
|Solar Thermal Panels||4,300 - 5,000|
In all cases, we advise you to get quotes from more than one company before making a decision.
Make money with green certificates! Following the wishes of the European Union to reduce its carbon emissions, Belgium has set up a green certificate system allowing individuals with a photovoltaic installation to offset their production and recap the solar panel installation costs.
What are your Meter Options with Solar Panels and the End of the Compensation Scheme?
Uptil now, most prosumers, or persons who produce and consume electricity, have had a net meter (compteur réversible) or a smart meter installed to calculate how much energy they are pulling from the grid minus the energy they are feeding into the grid. This was part of the compensation scheme developed by the regional governments in which a household would only pay for network transmission and distribution costs on the net amount of electricity they pulled from the grid.
Since 2020, each region has introduced laws to roll back this compensation scheme, and has set up a new metering system.
As the compensation scheme comes to an end in the different regions, the net metering system will be replaced by a dual metering system which will give the exact amount of electricity pulled from the grid on one meter, and the exact amount of electricity fed into the grid on another meter. As this is a government mandated meter change, the cost will normally be covered by your distribution supply network operator.
For details about how each region is dealing with the rollback of the compensation scheme, please read below.
Brussels Prosumer Law
In Brussels, Brugel, the energy regulator, has decided that as of January 1st, 2021, all households with solar panels will need to switch to a dual metering system rather than the net metering system as the compensation scheme has ended.
Prosumers will still be compensated with the electricity they add onto the grid by offsetting the energy, or commodity, portion of their tariff, but paying distribution and transmission costs for all the energy they take from the grid.
There has also been a reduction in the green certificates allocated for energy production by prosumers. The green certificates were originally meant to help offset the cost of the installation over the course of seven year, and since the average cost of installation has gone down, so have the allocated green certificates.
According to the government, it is expected that households will still be able to offset their installation costs over 7 years based on the new allocation scheme.
Flanders Prosumer Law
In Flanders, VREG (Flemish energy market authority) had given persons with existing solar panel installations the two following options which were applicable:
- Continue on the former prosumer compensation scheme.
- Opt for a reduced tariff based on actual usage where they will be compensated for the electricity they put onto the grid from the energy cost of the grid energy they used while paying for the transmission and distribution costs of the grid energy they consumed.
The compensation scheme had been valid for 15 years from the date of installation. So if a prosumer has had panels installed 5 years ago, the compensation would have ended in 10 years, at which time they will be switched to option 2.
As of January 19th, 2021 this plan has been cancelled and everyone will be put on option 2. The government has decided to financially compensate people who had installed solar panels as part of the scheme, depending on how long they have run their system under the scheme, meaning persons who have installed them recently would have a higher compensation than persons who had them installed say 10 years ago.
If you are on option 2, you will not be able to the net meter, as you will need to know both how much you have used from the public grid, as well as what you have put on the public grid to calculate your actual consumption and your discount. Normally in such a situation, you will have a dual meter system installed.
In Flanders, the final decision was for persons to move away from net-metering systems, and to only be compensated for the "energy" component of their tariff based on how much they feed into the grid.
Wallonia Prosumer Law
In Wallonia the compensation scheme came to an end on October 1st 2020. Some reprieve was given to certain installations which were given an additional 5 years under the prosumer law.
Solar Panel Tariffs and Who Offers Them
Regardless of where you fall in terms of applicable laws, to benefit from a prosumer tariff, you need to contract with a supplier that offers one.
Below we will share examples and details of what the large suppliers are offering in terms of solar tariffs.
Eneco’s Toit Solaire Tariff
Eneco is one of the country's largest suppliers of green energy. Its Toit Solaire, “solar roof”, tariff is advantageous because it takes into account both production and consumption of green electricity.
Toit Solaire offers a fixed unit price for one year.
|Eneco Toit Solaire Tariff ⚡|
|Single Rate Meter|
|Annual Subscription (€/yr)||60.000000|
|Cost of electricity (€cent/kWh)||6.85000|
|Dual Rate Meter|
|Annual Subscription (€/yr)||60.00|
|Cost of electricity (€cent/kWh) Day/Peak Rate||8.17000|
|Cost of electricity (€cent/kWh) Night/Off-Peak Rate||5.70000|
|Exclusively Night Meter|
|Annual Subscription (€/yr)||60.0000|
|Cost of electricity (€cent/kWh)||5.7000|
Lampiris’ Solar Tariff
Lampiris' Solar tariff offers a good fixed price per kWh for owners of solar panels with a 3-year contract in Brussels and one year contract for the rest of the country.
|Lampiris Solar Tariff ⚡|
|Single Rate Meter|
|Annual Subscription (€/yr)||119.000000|
|Cost of electricity (€cent/kWh)||7.07090|
|Dual Rate Meter|
|Annual Subscription (€/yr)||119.00|
|Cost of electricity (€cent/kWh) Day/Peak Rate||8.58700|
|Cost of electricity (€cent/kWh) Night/Off-Peak Rate||6.02280|
|Exclusively Night Meter|
|Annual Subscription (€/yr)||119.0000|
|Cost of electricity (€cent/kWh)||5.9018|
Luminus’ Comfy Shine Tariff
The Luminus Comfy Shine offer allows owners of solar panels to benefit from the night, off-peak, rate, even during the day. The night rate is lower priced than their general day rate. This non-binding contract offers a fixed price for at least one year.
|Luminus Comfy Shine Tariff ⚡|
|Single Rate Meter|
|Annual Subscription (€/yr)||40.000000|
|Cost of electricity (€cent/kWh)||6.49000|
|Dual Tariff Meter|
|Annual Subscription (€/yr)||40.00|
|Cost of electricity (€cent/kWh) Day/Peak Rate||6.49000|
|Cost of electricity (€cent/kWh) Night/Off-Peak Rate||6.49000|
|Exclusively Night Meter|
|Annual Subscription (€/yr)|
|Cost of electricity (€cent/kWh)||6.4900|