90 percent energy self-sufficiency almost reached

12/9/17, 11:02 AM -

With a combination of a 34 kW photovoltaic installation, energy storage, and a small wind turbine energy pioneer Andreas Haehnel reaches over 80% energy self-sufficiency. An electric heating system electric car charging is integrated.

The house of energy pioneer Andreas Haehnel in lower Bavaria.
The house of energy pioneer Andreas Haehnel in lower Bavaria.

 “Not for me!”, said Andreas Haehnel. In a land where the conventional electric power system looms over the energy landscape as the mighty Roman Empire once did over its vast domains, Mr. Haehnel’s house in the Bavarian town of Burgthann stands out like a small, rebellious Gallic town, evoking the image of the heroic Asterix from the well-known European comic strip of the same name. In this same spirit, Mr. Haehnel has taken it upon himself to be a pioneer in the movement toward renewable energy. And for this undertaking he is relying on Fenecon Technologies.

The Challenge

Independence is a noble goal for many people. However, when it comes to self-sufficiency in the area of power generation, it is not that easy. “It simply was and still is not”, explains Mr. Haehnel. “I have invested a lot of time and money together with my project partner in order to get to where I am today: nearly 90% self-generated power. Integrated yet decentralized power generation is, in my opinion, the best strategy for bringing about my own personal energy transformation.” As an employee at a regional brewery, Haehnel is no expert in the area of power generation. He is, nevertheless, what you might call a man of conviction. He places great value on maintaining a high quality of life.

And technological solutions are indispensable toward this end. Not only does this project require will and knowledge, but the wide range of potential solutions and combinations of technologies presents a challenge to those interested, because there exists such a large variety of providers when it comes to power sources; the conversion into household electricity as well as its storage or management; and the necessary consultation for such a project. It was clear to Haehnel from the very beginning that the project would require a great deal of personal initiative and that he would have to rely on trustworthy partners in order to profit from their experience and knowledge.

Own personal energy transformation

As for his own knowledge, Haehnel applied the learning-by-doing method, along with skills learned in a partial apprenticeship as an electrician. His enthusiasm for electricity and renewable energy can also be seen in his appearances as a tester of electric cars on YouTube. Even his house, which he built in 2000, was configured to facilitate his own personal energy transformation. The “energy rebel” laid out the following basic functions required for his home: transportation using electric cars, 90% self-sufficiency for electricity consumption and heating from an intelligently operated renewable energy supply management system, which he hopes to use as a model for other buildings. 

Two storage systems

In order to reach this ambitious goal using solutions from the variety available on the market, Haehnel chose Fenecon. “Our team is very young and engaged, and we were all very impressed by how much energy Andreas Haehnel brought to the project.”, declared Franz-Josef Feilmeier, CEO of Fenecon. The dimensions that Mr. Haehnel specified for the solutions are considerable: The sun is to be the main source of energy tapped by a photovoltaic unit with a peak output of 34 kilowatts, the modules of which will face south, west, and even north. Additionally, a small wind turbine will contribute 800 watts of electricity.

Installation of the energy storage battery systems.

 A 800 Watts micro turbine is also installed.

The power from this system flows into two storage systems. The first of these, a high-performance electricity storage system from Fenecon nd BYD called Pri Hybrid, had already been installed in 2014, the capacity for which Haehnel has expanded to 30 kWh in the meantime. The Fenecon Pro 9 – 12 has been in operation since 2016, making it still quite new in the energy strategy of the pioneer. This, the feature product of Fenecon with its long-life, lithium iron phosphate battery offers nine kilowatt output and twelve kilowatt hours of usable capacity. The system is both compatible with emergency power as well as solar rechargeable and can be serviced like any other paid unit on the grid. Haehnel sums up the system with enthusiasm: “The Pro 9 – 12 is a technically elegant constructed storage unit and offers the most functions on the market. As Fenecon itself says, it is the exactly right product for demanding customers.”

Fenecon fully supported Mr. Haehnel with the planning and installation. The decision to go with this specialist in decentralized solutions from lower Bavaria was carefully considered. “The good reputation, the cost-performance ratio, and geographic proximity all favored Fenecon”, said Haehnel. “In the end, though, it was the performance data of the technology that was decisive. It has the know-how and the spirit of a young company, and on the product side Build Your Dreams provides the security and reliability of a big company. Fenecon is a receptive partner; the team is always ready to listen and respond with good answers or solutions.”

Currently around 80 self-suffiency

In the end it is the bottom line that matters, and here the balance is extremely positive. Using his own individual solutions for a decentralized, self-sufficient energy supply, Mr. Haehnel has almost reached his goal of 90% self-sufficiency. Currently, he is at about 80%. He is definitely aware that the dimensions of his project are quite large. “Of course, this is not a solution for everyone, if only because of the initial costs”, says Haehnel. In total, he and his project partner, Helmut Kuhn, have invested almost 250,000 euros, the largest share of which has gone to electric cars. Kuhn, an expert in PV systems, is also a man of conviction.“ It is important to us to show what is possible and to inspire people. 60% self-sufficiency is something that anyone can do. We wanted to create a privately used system to serve as a model that could also work for small- and mid-size businesses”, explains Haehnel.

Haehnel feels very good about his investment, especially considering the fact that as of the first day of use and feed-in, he’ll be saving on running costs. And his system serves the grid by helping to stabilize it. The gas heating, the last component to be changed, was replaced in July 2017 by an electric heating unit with 18 kilowatt output. Thus, his house no longer has a combustor. Thanks to the large capacity of his double storage solution from Fenecon, he can load his electric cars overnight and relax in his whirlpool. And even the wind turbine, with its relatively small output, is important to him. “800 watts doesn’t sound like much, but it is in the end enough to power the refrigerator”, he explains.

Next steps ahead

In order for the system to be operated intelligently, each part of it is fully linked to the network and has its own IP address. Data transparency is important for project control and feasibility analysis for those interested. It is also necessary for planning his own energy supply. It is near and dear to his heart to offer a solution that can serve as a model for others. His is even willing to go so far as to have an open house day at his home. “Everybody should see what is possible. I’ll invite people again and again.”, he declares. As ambitious as he is in the area of renewable energy, he will continue to pursue the goal of 90% self-sufficiency. The next step is to install solar modules on his east roof as well as a second wind turbine. (HCN/SW)

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