Beware of Putin – Ukrainian woman invents ‘solar power for balconies’ to wean Europe off Russian gas

Much has been said about how European countries, on the one hand, support Ukraine in its fight against the heinous and illegal invasion of Russia, but at the same time remain highly dependent on Russian energy sources.

Many EU countries – currently experiencing a heat wave – have rushed to switch to alternatives, such as renewables which are considered one of the key factors in achieving energy independence from Russia.

So it’s a delightful irony that a Ukrainian tech entrepreneur has found a way to empower ordinary Europeans to fight Russia, by easily installing solar panels on their many balconies.

WeDoSolarlaunched in February 2022 (the month Russia invaded Ukraine) and claims to have received “thousands of orders” so far for its “vertical solar power” panels, which are specially designed to be mounted, with weatherproof straps, on balconies by unauthorized persons. – technology-savvy users.

WeDoSolar

WeDoSolar

WeDoSolar claims it can reduce a household’s carbon footprint by up to 600kg and electricity bills by up to 25% per year.

EU imported about 155 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas from Russia in 2021. This represents about 40% of the EU’s total gas consumption, with dependency reaching 65% in Germany.

In theory, if every balcony in Europe was equipped with solar panels such as those from WeDoSolar, it would make it much easier to get Russian oil and gas out.

Designed by German engineers and insured as part of the offer, the lightweight panels weigh 1kg each and plug into a standard power outlet. The WeDoSolar microinverter then pushes power into the home grid, allowing the panels to power home appliances before using the normal grid, as solar power is always used before normal grid power, claims the society.

Users can also track the energy output of their solar panels and the amount of CO2 saved in an app, which converts the measurements into language such as “60 phone charges” or 600 kg annual CO2 reduction equivalent to one ” forest of 1000 m2″.

Focusing on EU markets, the 8-panel set costs €1299 or comes as a free rental model for EV owners in exchange for CO2 certificates. These are then bundled and sold to oil companies, as oil companies are forced to buy certificates on an annual basis from EV owners, at least in Germany.

WeDoSolar also offers large corporate benefit programs where employers benefit from CO2 certificates for their businesses while employees can potentially lower their electricity bills (assuming the sun is shining).

The startup was founded by Karolina Attspodinaa serial entrepreneur of Ukrainian descent and Qian Qin, hardware engineer, serial entrepreneur and former CEO of BSH Digital Ventures GmbH. The startup has been backed by angel investors, but no institutional investors yet.

WeDoSolar has competitors in the form of Yuma, Priwatt and Plugin Energy, however, according to the company, it plans to compete by being the EU’s “first balcony solar solution”, easy installation and its temperature tracking app. live energy production.

In a statement, Attspodina said, “Solar energy is both free and readily available. Existing solar panel solutions are either intended for industrial use or too cumbersome to install without the assistance of a qualified technical team. You should also wait for the monthly bill to determine the effect. We provide a tool that every person, homeowner and renter, could use at home on a daily basis to power home appliances. “We want to make sustainable energy accessible, and I see great potential in people taking charge of their energy addiction.”

Balcony with WeDoSolar solar panels

Balcony with WeDoSolar solar panels

Balcony with WeDoSolar solar panels

I asked him how the idea came about:

“Myself and my co-founder were looking for faster ways to reduce CO2 so that we could ensure a clean future for our children and grandchildren,” Attspodina said.

“When I was in Portugal in 2021, I had a few clients in the solar industry that showed the size of the market, but also proved how older companies are not qualified to commercialize solar energy I had a clear idea that solar power can be used on just about most surfaces and came up with balcony solar power, a simple solution that is easy to set up and take with you. you if you move house, for example.”

“I felt like we could serve not only homeowners but also a part of the market that rents. Right now energy costs are going up like crazy and they will keep going up. until we stabilize them and implement a bunch of ways to generate our own clean energy,” she added.

There is even a B2B angle.

As Attspodina said: “Think of a company that offers it to its employees as part of the benefits program… We have a way in Germany, at least for now, to offer our whole solar absolutely free to all electric car drivers there is such a program called THG quota which means the oil companies are forced to buy the CO2 certificates from the electric car drivers and we exchange this money quota for our solar set, which is then shipped to our user absolutely free of charge.

It certainly seems – as Europe labors under a scorching but powerful sun – that WeDoSolar could kill more birds than a stone: reducing CO2 emissions, and the grip of a certain Mr. Putin on the European energy, and therefore its ability to wage war. Let’s hope that’s the case.

Mary I. Bruner