Photovoltaics are not connected to the grid in some places

The number of photovoltaic power plants in houses in the Czech Republic has been increasing at such a pace recently that distributors are no longer able to connect some of them to the grid. These households are then unable to resell any surplus. The distributors refuse them altogether, or the connection is slow and gradual.

Many households calculate when building PV plants that they will receive income from the surplus electricity from their panels. But these are only rough calculations. Not only fewer days of sunshine and the feed-in tariff, but also the infrastructure options can mess with them.

“From a technical point of view, the distribution system is not ready for such a large and rapid change,” Luděk Lošťák, head of the specialist company Zero Living, said.

“Instead of consumption, surpluses are being created, and the distribution system must be able to work with this energy. The distribution network has no choice but to regulate these demands. This means starting to restrict the connection of local photovoltaics to the grid in some areas,” he further confirmed.

We can even cause blackouts

While this is not a significant nationwide problem, “if PV is not regulated, we could cause a blackout ourselves.”

“We keep telling people that it is advisable to build PV for self-consumption. But many people buy systems with maximum output and don’t want to hear that the distribution system will disconnect them from the grid anyway at the moment of high production,” warned Lošťák.

Two houses across the street on the same street applied for connection. The one that was used on Monday is connected. The other came on Tuesday and is already out of luck.

According to Roman Leikeb, a commercial and technical specialist from Solid Sun, there are problems with connection in southern Moravia. “It happens there in large numbers. The distributor, EG.D., does not give people connection contracts. Their domestic photovoltaics work that way, but only for the household. They cannot let the surplus into the grid. On the other hand, north of Brno, we usually don’t have problems with this,” Leikeb described the differences.

The rule here is first come, first served. “It happened to me that two houses opposite each other in the same street asked to be connected. The one that applied on Monday is connected. The other one came on Tuesday and is already out of luck,” Leikeb said.

There are problems in Luhačovice, for example. “We were very disappointed,” a resident whose household could not connect to the network told Czech Television.

“At the low-voltage level, there are a minimum—dozens—of cases or localities where we limit the applicants in terms of deadlines. Suppose there is insufficient capacity to connect a generating plant in a given location. In that case, we propose a phased connection of the generating plant to the distribution system,” Soňa Holingerová told Právo on behalf of the company.

Photovoltaics with higher output and overflows? Only if the local distributor approves it.

In the first stage, she said, the plant will be allowed to be connected to the grid without overflowing the generated electricity, and in the second stage, the surge will be allowed. “The second stage is linked to the modification of the distribution system, i.e., reinforcement of the outlet or reconstruction of the line,” Holinger said.

She said the deadlines for making grid modifications are individual and depend on the extent of the changes and the need for public and property law review.

However, Leikeb said the situation might be exacerbated by a new law that allows the power output of a domestic power plant without a business license to be increased from 10 kW to 50 kW without a building permit.

Waiting for the electricity meter

“Two or three people in a village may make a PV plant this big, and after them, no one connects,” he warned. While investments are also being made to strengthen the grid’s capacity, this will likely take a long time to take effect.

Part of the connection involves the replacement of the electricity meter, and Leikeb said many people receive a letter stating that the replacement will take nine months. However, it could take even longer.

“I had the panels installed in a fortnight, but then I waited almost a year for them to change my meter, and I was allowed to connect everything. I had half a million crowns in it, and before they connected me, I couldn’t get any of the subsidies back,” a 50-year-old man from Venice nad Jizerou said.

According to Holingerová, ČEZ tries, in the vast majority of cases, to ensure that the time between the application for the first connection and the meter installation does not exceed 30 days. “A lot depends on the locality, the number of cases currently filed in the area, and the quality of the documents submitted by the connection applicant,” she summarized.

Prepare around half a million solar panels on a family home