After just one day, the solar funding program was over again. 33,000 applications were approved and 300 million euros were promised – so the coffers for 2023 are empty for the time being. Next year there will be another 200 million. The Ministry of Transport will pat itself on the back and celebrate a complete success. But is it a success and if so, for whom? The thoughtful can be satisfied; the group of wealthy and high earners has rarely been served more generously. But the balance sheet looks completely different for the energy transition; here, “the sausage was thrown after the ham,” as the saying goes.

The purchase and installation of a charging station for electric cars is funded if it is combined with a photovoltaic system and electricity storage. There is a grant of up to 10,200 euros for this. But only a select clientele can benefit. Not tenants. Owner-occupied home ownership is a prerequisite and owning or at least ordering an electric car. This is what the optimal funding looks like: At times you could receive up to 9,000 euros when buying an electric car and now another 10,000 on top. That’s 19,000 euros for homeowners with an electric vehicle.

This funding level is unusually high. Peter Knuth is co-founder of enerix, a large franchise company in the photovoltaic industry and Germany’s only photovoltaic franchise. He estimates that for a typical system you receive around a third of the costs as funding. In addition, solar technology is exempt from sales tax – a reduction of 19 percent. The actual technology for e-mobility is the smallest item, complains Knuth. A maximum of 2000 euros will be charged for this. “There was already funding for a wallbox in private households and back then you received a flat rate of 800 euros and that meant that everyone, really everyone, installed such a box.” A storage capacity of 10 kWh also raises doubts about the sense of the project. It’s a bit like refueling a combustion engine with a canister of just five liters. “10 kWh is enough for about 40 kilometers,” says Knuth. Temporary storage also makes solar power more expensive. This is of little use to the much-talked-about commuter, but of course it is enough for the senior citizen whose car is charged in the carport at home all day long.

The majority of the funding, around 9,000 euros, is spent on photovoltaics or electricity storage – the money comes from the Ministry of Transport. The following can be argued: the program may be called “solar power for electric cars”, but the beneficiary can also use the subsidy to cover his other electricity consumption in this way. But that’s not necessary.

The photovoltaic industry has been enjoying steady growth for two years, or actually five years, fueled once again by the exemption from sales tax. The bottleneck today is not with interested parties, but with permits, the necessary adjustments to the power grid and the lack of skilled workers. “Excessive funding always leads to a discussion about envy,” says Knuth. “If you only have one condo, you’re out.” Knuth has been active in the industry for over 20 years and generally doesn’t believe in shock wave funding. “That doesn’t help us at all, it creates a run every time. Now there are 30,000 single-family homes that benefit from this. Then another 20,000 are added. And then the industry falls into a hole again.” As soon as nothing is funded anymore, no one will buy for a while. The funding squeezes demand into a narrow time window – instead of equalizing it.

Knuth knows what that actually looks like. The company sends out a newsletter and of course reported on the funding. “Customers who have only recently signed up also find out about this. They then try to cancel all orders and reassign them with funding.” Added to this is the anger of customers who can no longer get out of their order. Solar’s image has improved significantly in recent years, says Knuth. Because you can demonstrate the meaningfulness well, even without subsidies. “Anything that is so heavily subsidized is also subject to criticism,” he fears. In the end, the 500 million is money wasted pointlessly because there are strong deadweight effects.