A recent post at TechCrunch tells us the tale of a Ukrainian woman who found a way to fight Putin without picking up a rifle or Javelin missile launcher. Her preferred weapon? Solar panels mounted on Europe’s balconies.
“I felt like we can serve not only people who own a home but also part of the market who is renting. Right now, energy costs are going up like crazy and they will not stop rising until we will stabilise them and will implement a bunch of ways to generate our own clean energy,” said Karolina Attspodina, the founder of WeDoSolar, the company offering this service.
Europeans use natural gas for heating and to make electricity. The essential nature of these services gives Vladimir Putin power over Europe, as he can raise prices or deny access to gas. It’s also not great to buy gas from Putin, as it feeds his war against Ukraine, and trying to cut back on Russian gas means prices soar. This leaves Europe’s leaders with few good options.
WeDoSolar, a company that specializes in “vertical solar power” panels for balconies, was founded in February 2022 (the month Russia invaded Ukraine). It claims to have already received “thousands of orders” for its “vertical solar power” panels, which are specifically designed to be mounted, with weatherproof straps, by people who know nothing about solar or electrical power.
The lightweight panels, which include an insurance policy from their German manufacturer, weigh 1 kg each and connect to a standard power outlet. The WeDoSolar Microinverter then sends electricity into the household grid, allowing the solar panels to operate appliances before relying on normal grid power since solar is typically used ahead of regular grid electricity, according to the company.
The company says just putting these panels into a home’s energy system reduces power needed from the grid by 25%, leading to not only lower utility bills, but less natural gas used. So, the more people who use the system, the less gas Europe needs from Putin and the less money that goes into Putin’s pockets. The EU imported roughly 155 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas from Russia in 2021.
That accounts for around 40% of the EU’s total demand, with Germany’s dependency as high as 65%. So, reducing energy needed by 25% can really make a dent in Putin’s influence over the region.
The 8-panel set is priced at €1,299 or comes as a free rental option for electric vehicle drivers in return for CO2 credits. These are then combined and sold to oil firms, as mandated by German law. The firm also provides large organizations with employee benefit plans, where the employers benefit from CO2 certificates while the staff can potentially save money on their power bills.
The company’s inverter also comes with an app allowing the user to see what’s going on. You can not only see what the system is doing right now, but you can also see how much money and carbon emissions you’ve saved since installing the system, or for the current year or month.
With the ease of installation and the advantages that come from the system, it shouldn’t be hard for many Europeans to take advantage of this system and put a dent in Putin’s plans.
Featured image: A screenshot from WeDoSolar’s website, showing an illustration of the installation process.