This startup provides tenants with solar energy

Renewable energy is all the rage, but while homeowners can install things like solar panels, renters are left behind. Fortunately, a Berlin startup is trying to change that.

We Do Solar was founded in September 2021 by Karolina Attspodina and Qian Qin. They’ve created a solar panel kit that you can attach to your balcony or fence — and help renters cut their utility bills by up to 25%.

The panels are supplied with fastening straps, a microinverter and a plug. They can be attached to a balcony railing or privacy screen. Once installed, connected and connected, you immediately start generating energy throughout the day.

panels from We Do Solar
We Do Solar panels in action

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Depending on the location and the weather, the electricity generated is equal to two to three kilowatt hours. Attspodina tells me that “one kilowatt hour equals 60 telephone charges.” But the hardware can also power more intensive items, such as your washing machine or refrigerator

The panels also have 4G connectivity and with an accompanying app you can view the energy generated and the amount of C02 saved.

Empowerment of the traditionally excluded

Germany is no stranger to renewable energy. Attspodina tells me she found that “there were almost 200,000 DIY solutions that people build locally.” Unfortunately, these did not always meet the safety standards or rental regulations around making structural changes to the exterior of a rental home by drilling in screws and bolts – and no one wants to cause a nuisance during a housing shortage.

But a statement from Stuttgart last year found that: the environmental benefits of solar panels outweigh the landlord’s rightssetting a precedent for solar panels for apartments.

This is of course not the same throughout Europe, which is why We Do Solar’s kit comes with weatherproof strips that don’t change the walls of an apartment building. In effect, this means that they can be installed in large numbers of rental properties.

Helping transition to carbon neutrality

What interests me most is not the solar panels themselves, but the market opportunity. Germany has a unique living culture. 48.9% of the population lives in rental properties (much lower than the Western European norm), while 56.1% of Germans live in apartments.

This means that a company like We Do Solar — which can provide equipment that would normally be out of reach for these people — has the potential to thrive. The only stumbling block here, however, is cost.

The panels retail for €1299, which is no small expense for anyone already struggling to pay their energy bills. But according to Attspodina, the German government is committed to solar energy. The permissible wattage for such residential panels has recently been increased from 600 watts to 750 watts. There is a potential grant of up to €400 and the panels are free of VAT.

solar panels for free
EV buyers in Germany can buy solar panels for free with their CO2 credits

Even more interesting is that you can exchange the panels for carbon credits. In Germany, for example, people who buy an electric car get C02 credits. These can be traded in for the solar panel kit, meaning you can basically get it for free if you play your cards right.

The company is also working to offer its services to corporate employee benefits programs. A company could buy (or rent) the panels for its employees and receive its own C02 credits.

We Do Solar has made a product at the right time at the right time. While they’ve focused on Germany and other countries in Europe for now, Attspodina notes that the panels could play a role in rebuilding homes in her native Ukraine after the war ended.

However, competition is the biggest risk for the fledgling company, which has managed to get a product on the market quickly. The panels are manufactured in China, a country with a saturated solar market. There is a potential for competitors to flood Europe, especially as governments stick to energy conservation and the benefits of residential solar and carbon credit schemes. But from an environmental point of view, that would be a nice problem because it would drive prices down across the board.

However, the future of this technology is bright. If We Do Solar can develop a range of products that work in a wider range of buildings, the company can put sustainability in the hands of millions that are often ignored. It’s a noble dream – and I think we can all join in.


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