Since its foundation in late 2017, Napelem Szerelő Kft. [Solar Panel Installer Ltd.] of Szeged in SE Hungary has been helping to supply the Hungarian market with green energy with a steadily increasing performance, managing numerous subcontractors. The company, as Managing Director Rudolf Mészáros tells Diplomacy&Trade, is now expanding to Austria, where it will continue to offer the same high quality but at the more affordable Hungarian prices. At the same time, the firm is also looking to open up to other neighboring countries with products from Austrian manufacturers.
"We are electricians, we have been installing smart homes, industrial parks and household-sized solar systems for a long time. We have a long-term contract with the Austrian solar panel factory KIOTO SOLAR and with Energy 3000, a company that distributes renewable energy products, and within the framework of these contracts, we are installing household and industrial solar systems in Hungary and Austria. Now, we would like to develop a new profile and offer a market plan for privately owned shopping centers in Austria, showing how we can reduce their electricity consumption. Also, we want to work on the supply of solar panels to households," the managing director describes his company's activities briefly.
He adds that a 50-kilowatt solar system can be installed, for example, on the roof of a shopping center in about a week, once the necessary permits have been obtained. "This is the construction itself, but we can be involved in the design and subsequent operation as well. All this also applies to private individuals in Austria, therefore, we not only build solar systems for industrial players, but also on a smaller scale – at the more favorable prices customary in Hungary."
He also mentions that they are not only dealing with solar panels, but also with the installation of other products obtained from the aforementioned Austrian factory, such as systems that help to use the hot water produced by solar panels for domestic heating – all over Europe. "We would also like to see such complex solar heating systems installed primarily in Austria," he adds.
Overcoming difficulties in supply
In Hungary, the availability of solar panels and inverters, and the planning deadlines are currently a problem, but Rudolf Mészáros sees no such challenge in Austria. "We receive the solar panels to be installed from the two well-established companies I mentioned and install them with a guarantee.”
Solar power plants in the desired size
The managing director explains what the solar panel systems of different capacities that have been installed can provide enough energy for. "A 100-kilowatt solar power plant can supply, for example, the shopping center in Parndorf in north-western Austria, which is often visited by Hungarians, with enough electricity to power its daily operations during the summer months, with very little needed to buy from the grid. This is a very good performance for a system of that capacity. We believe that shopping centers should make better use of these positive ways of reducing overheads."
Another example is that of detached houses occupied by several generations and each room possibly heated separately by gas. "In such a case, if we install a solar system, for a house of 100 square meters with at least three rooms, a 20-kilowatt solar system can optimally offset the gas consumption completely, it can definitely save a lot of energy. We'll be able to replace the existing gas boiler with a heat pump, and the hot water supply in the home will continue in the same way, but everything will run on electricity from then on, and it will cost, say, a third or half as much as it used to cost to heat it with gas," he adds.
It pays off
One of the most important factors in solar projects is the return on investment. Rudolf Mészáros explains that when calculating this, "we are not looking backward, but actually forward because the current outlook is that energy prices in the European Union will increase. I don't want to analyze the reasons for this but we can see that the forecasts are pointing in that direction. So, whatever figure I would give you now for the return, I will certainly have to give you a lower one next month, because prices will also increase from next month. Although, the Austrian government has granted support to the public to pay their utility bills, this will not be the case indefinitely. We hope that things will eventually return to normal, but there is no doubt that families will face increased utility bills – and we are offering a solution to reduce them and prevent emergency situations."
Concerning solar panels, one can see news all the time that their efficiency has again improved. "There's steady progress in this field, just like in the case of mobile phones: the EU is producing better and better, more powerful and more durable devices. Countries, like Austria, where there are solar cell companies, are able to keep producing more and more powerful solar cells with new chips, new cells. Not long ago, they were producing solar panels of 550 watts. We've hardly installed anything less than 400 watts lately, but now 555-watt solar panels are being made, where the foil separating the top and bottom of the solar panel is transparent rather than black or white. This means that the cells can receive light energy from both sides and convert more of it into electricity. This increases the amount of electricity that can be generated from almost the same square meter of surface area," the Managing Director explains.
Own solar farm
Solar Panel Installer Ltd. not only designs and implements various solar projects, but also operates a solar park of its own in Tápé, a village near Szeged, where a 1-MW solar park is located next to the company's warehouse. Another 1-MW solar park is under construction at the same location and is expected to be inaugurated in the first quarter of 2023. "As electricity can be freely traded by owners throughout the European Union, we are also looking for plants in Austria that might want to get electricity cheaper than the local going price. My company also offers solutions for other private solar parks in Hungary that want to sell their electricity abroad, within the EU. This can be a great opportunity for factories that use a relatively large amount of electricity, such as steel mills, fertilizer factories, etc. So, we would like to offer a solution for them, and we’re looking for EU partners who want to buy electricity cheaper than the local price – especially in the long term!" Rudolf Mészáros concludes.
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