Germany gives apartment-dwellers legal right to solar power

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's lower house of parliament has passed legal amendments allowing apartment owners and tenants to install solar systems on their balconies, as the country seeks to increase uptake of the energy form.

The reforms, passed late on Thursday, allow what is referred to as a "privileged measure" in rental and property ownership law to allow plug-in solar devices, making it difficult for landlords and apartment-owner associations to block their installation without an exceptional justification.

"The right to harvest solar power is thus legally enshrined. This is tangible climate protection and is likely to further increase acceptance of the energy transition," Carsten Körnig, the head of the BSW solar power association, said in a statement.

The changes are likely to have a particular impact in a country where more than half of the population live in rented accommodation and to help the capital Berlin achieve its goal of covering 80% of energy needs from renewable energy by 2030.

They will apply to systems with a capacity of up to 2,000 watts that are frequently used to reduce households electricity bills, the economy ministry said, adding there would be no immediate need to change electricity meters.

Following the energy price surge that followed Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine and the ending of Germany's dependency on Russian gas, Germany has increasingly turned to renewables.

Demand for balcony solar systems, which typically cost between 500 and 1,500 euros ($541.25 and $1,623.75), surged last year. Some 550,000 devices are in operation, half of which were installed in 2023, data from the BSW solar power association showed.

($1 = 0.9238 euros)

(Reporting by Riham Alkousaa; editing by Barbara Lewis)