BERLIN (dpa-AFX) - Retailers in Germany are complaining about long waiting times for the connection of photovoltaic systems and charging points and are calling for faster processing by the distribution network operators. According to Deutsche Presse-Agentur, the retail giants Aldi Nord, Edeka, Lidl and Rewe, the wholesale group Metro and the furniture retailer Ikea are among those affected by the delays.

"Retailers are having great difficulty getting solar systems and e-charging points connected to the grid at all. This cannot be in the interests of the energy transition," said Stefan Genth, Managing Director of the German Retail Association (HDE). Companies are therefore waiting up to 18 months until a connection is in place. In many federal states, there is a legal obligation to install photovoltaic systems and charging infrastructure in new commercial buildings.

According to the discounter Aldi Nord, it has already equipped around 650 of its 2,200 stores in Germany with photovoltaic systems. Up to 100 more systems are to go into operation this year. In addition, 1000 new charging stations are planned for the parking lots. The bureaucratic effort involved in the registration process is considerable. Once the systems have been installed, it takes too long before they can be used. According to Aldi Nord, it takes up to twelve months.

At Lidl, where many stores are also being equipped with photovoltaics and charging points, it takes up to eight months, according to a spokesperson. Edeka also reports delays in expansion. However, these are also due to increased material requirements, a lack of skilled workers and disrupted supply chains.

Processing times "longer than usual"

There are around 870 distribution network operators in Germany, including many municipal utilities. They supply electricity to end customers and issue approval for solar systems to feed electricity into the grid. The technical connection conditions and registration procedures differ in many cases. The HDE is calling for nationwide standardization in order to simplify and speed up the procedures.

None of the grid operators asked will confirm waiting times of up to 18 months. They point to the recent rapid increase in the number of new PV systems and approval requests. Processing times are "currently longer than usual", says a spokesperson for Duisburger Versorgungs- und Verkehrsgesellschaft. "Large systems in particular require an increased amount of checking." If applications are not complete, time-consuming corrections are necessary. Many of the requested grid operators state that they have responded to the increased demand - for example by digitizing the process.

Quadrupling the number of new installations from 2021 to 2023

The German Energy Industry Association (BDEW) is also seeing a sharp increase in connection requests. "Grid operators are currently working flat out to connect heat pumps, wall boxes and PV systems to their grids," said Kerstin Andreae, Chairwoman of the Executive Board. "Many grid operators are working extra shifts, sometimes on Saturdays, to cope with the rush." According to BDEW, larger PV systems may require the grid to be expanded or a new transformer to be built.

Large heat pumps in particular may require expansion due to the high number of appliances that need to be connected at the same time. "The realization of the grid connection can take time in individual cases due to the necessary building permits and bottlenecks at civil engineering companies, but is unavoidable," says Andreae. The association advises customers with high connection capacities in particular to discuss the project and integration into the grid with the local grid operator as early as possible.

According to the Federal Network Agency, it is in contact with the grid operators. According to the agency, the number of new installations quadrupled between 2021 and 2023. It is remarkable that the grid operators surveyed have managed to keep processing times roughly constant, said a spokesperson. The solar package launched by the Federal Ministry of Economics will bring further relief. "We are optimistic that the processing time will not remain a permanent problem."/cr/DP/he