Should I install solar panels at my home? The Walloon government launches a new card to make an informed choice

Should I install solar panels at my home? The Walloon government launches a new card to make an informed choice
Should I install solar panels at my home? The Walloon government launches a new card to make an informed choice

The Walloon government officially launched its new cartosolaire.wallonie.be platform on Wednesday. The tool aims to be revolutionary: it provides all the information concerning the installation of solar panels for each building in Wallonia. Cost of installation, energy produced, savings made… The consumer has all the keys to making their choice.

Everything is already online

The platform, already accessible to all Walloons, can be used in just a few clicks. Simply enter an address to see the building in question modeled on the screen. A three-color code (green, yellow or red) informs us of the building’s solar potential. Once the choice has been validated, the site recommends a number of panels to install, as well as the location where to install them. We also discover the quantity of energy produced, the cost and above all the time necessary to make it profitable. Although twelve years may seem long, “you should know that today we install panels for thirty years”, specifies Benjamin Wilkin, Director of Énergie Commune. So, seduced? The list of certified installers makes it easier to contact a professional.

The map, already fully functional, is available here.

The icing on the cake is that the calculation parameters can be adapted to your own situation. The site allows you to find out how much energy you consume, or whether you own electric vehicles. It even provides advice on maximizing panel profitability, by adopting certain behaviors or purchasing additional devices. Note that the site also works for thermal solar panels.

Succeed in the energy transition

The project originates from the Walloon recovery plan, after the COVID-19 pandemic. To receive its share of European recovery funds, Wallonia must demonstrate its efforts in terms of ecology. Mapping must therefore help the region achieve its environmental objectives. The region must double its production of renewable energies by 2030, propelling solar power to 29% of the Walloon energy mix. Suffice to say that the Minister of Energy Philippe Henry hopes that the card will fuel the craze for photovoltaics!

To carry out this project, SPW Énergie retained GIM, a trusted partner of the Walloon government. The company specializing in the processing of geographic data had already carried out a similar project in Flanders, called zonenekaart. Christophe Adriansen, CEO of the company, says “very happy to contribute to a more sustainable society”.

Still gray areas

However, cartography comes up against the abandonment of important aid measures. The green certificate no longer exists, and Walloons must now pay to reinject their production into the network. Mr. Henry nevertheless remains calm: “Installation costs have fallen significantly over time. Today, solar panels no longer need public aid to be profitable.”

Another major drawback is that the software does not take into account the disconnection of the solar panels. In fact, the Walloon electricity network cannot withstand the shock of the sudden multiplication of panels. When their electricity production exceeds the capacity of the network, they stop working. Problem: these phenomena represent significant losses for owners. This could seriously delay the return on investment, and discourage the Walloons from attempting the adventure. GIM argues that this phenomenon has only recently become known, and therefore could not be integrated into the model. The fact remains that the government is not proposing a lasting solution to this problem, which risks swallowing up the effectiveness of the system level.

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