Profit from the roof


Solar panels on people's homes or on factory buildings are long since a familiar sight to all of us. But photovoltaic systems on large rented properties? They are still an exception. That could – and should – soon change.

Generating solar power for tenants is currently developing into an attractive business model. From which landlords, municipal utilities, other power suppliers and not least of all the residents can profit. And that helps to protect the climate because fewer greenhouse gases are released into the environment.

It is now up to the landlords to seize the opportunity to do something for climate protection.

Setting a good example: the “active city building” in Frankfurt

The example of the active city building in the west of Frankfurt’s city centre shows what this looks like in practice. Well over 1,000 solar modules are installed on the roof and façade of the building with 74 apartments. If the modules produce more electricity than the residents consume, a battery in the cellar stores the energy, for example for night time. There is also a charging station for electric cars and bikes. Every tenant has a tablet with which he can check his own electricity consumption and therefore see whether he needs more energy than the average of the residents in the building. The municipal housing association, ABG, is the landlord of the award-winning building. The local energy utility, Mainova, is also involved.


Not only new builds but also existing multi-family buildings are suitable for the concept of solar energy for tenants. In a typical case, the owner of the building leases his roof area to an energy utility – and therefore receives additional income. The municipal utility or other service provider installs and operates the solar system. The KfW banking group supports such projects by granting low-interest loans if its criteria are satisfied.

Photovoltaic systems for multi-family buildings

It is attractive for the tenants to obtain solar energy from their roof because it is generally cheaper than the market price. Customer groups who would otherwise have perhaps never been interested in clean watts and volts therefore use green electricity. Moreover, the low-cost and sustainable energy supply makes the property more attractive to new tenants. Another advantage for the owner. The municipal utilities in turn set themselves apart from national competitors as local providers who supply the customers directly from the building’s roof.


The fact that individual federal states such as Hesse promote such tenant electricity models is to be welcomed. And so is the fact that the Bundestag and Bundesrat have just resolved, as part of the recent reform of the Renewable Energy Act (EEG), to reduce the EEG levy on these models. It is now up to the landlords to seize the opportunity to do something for climate protection.

Picture credits: grasundsterne, thinkstockphotos