Aerial photos reveal more than 5,000 illegal solar installations
Share article:
Share article:

Aerial photos reveal more than 5,000 illegal solar installations

© Science in HD for Unsplash

Fluvius, the energy network manager for electricity and gas in all of Flanders, has discovered 5,300 illegal solar power installations, simply by examining aerial photographs.

Since 2015, owners of small-scale solar installations have been obliged to pay Fluvius what is known as a ‘prosument’ tariff, which allows them access to the electricity grid for those times when their own installation does not provide all of their electricity needs.

That involves the obligation to notify Fluvius of the installation, as well as its details. But some owners prefer not to pay, and not to notify.

The solution, according to Fluvius’ latest annual report, was to consult the aerial photos provided by Geopunt, a service provided by the Flemish government and available to all.

While websites like Google Street View allow us to wander the highways and byways of Belgium from our desks, solar installations, especially clandestine ones, are not usually front and centre. But the Geopunt photos allowed Fluvius to inspect back gardens and inner courtyards, as well as rooftops.

Related News

 

Another useful tool was image recognition software, which allowed investigators to recognise solar panels even if they were being disguised as something else.

Finally, the manager has the power to carry out inspections of anything it considers to be an undeclared installation, simply on safety grounds.

In that way, Fluvius was able to uncover 5,300 illegal installations in Flanders alone. So far, 3,500 have been regularised, and the other 1,800 have proceedings under way. The network manager was able to recoup €2.6 million in unpaid tariffs.

Meanwhile, the largest form of fraud remains trafficking in green energy certificates.

Since 2015, owners of domestic solar installations no longer have a right to green energy certificates, a form of incentive that can be sold to energy providers for a rebate on the costs of installing solar panels.

However, the owners of large installations still receive the certificates, for an amount that depends on the date of the installation. The older the installation, the more valuable the certificates.

The fraud in this case comes in the form of falsifying the date of completion by forging inspection reports or invoices from installers.

Fluvius reports investigating 280 cases of suspected fraud by 232 owners, which resulted in the recovery of €5 million in certificates that were improperly obtained.

Latest news

Up to 100 km/h winds expected across Belgium on Wednesday night
Gusts of up to 100 km/h are expected across Belgium on Wednesday night, according to the Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI), which has issued a ...
Cycling traffic officially added to VRT’s traffic bulletin
Usually a list of updates for drivers on busy roads, traffic bulletins will now include the latest travel news for cyclists in Belgium, VRT announced ...
MEPs call for European strategy to protect workers from asbestos
Members of the European Parliament are calling on the Commission to create a strategy for removing all abestos from buildings in order to reduce the ...
Mandatory vaccine for carers: employers call for sanctions
In a notice submitted by the National Council for Work (CNT), employers have called for heavy penalties for healthcare workers who refuse to receive ...
Police pension protest blocks several Brussels crossroads
On Wednesday, around 350 police officers expressed their dissatisfaction about the unclear pension scheme, low salaries and politicised police unions ...
Belgium in Brief: A Consultative Committee Sequel
Sequels often have a lot to live up to and when it comes to movie franchises, it gets difficult to keep up the hype once you get towards the final ...
25 years ago today: 300,000 people marched in white against child abuse
On this day 25 years ago, over 300,000 people marched in Brussels to demand a more effective justice system and to support the families of Julie, ...
Windy weather forecast should lower gas prices
After weeks of relatively calm conditions, a return to windy weather should lower Europe's soaring energy prices. Wind turbines in the UK and Germany ...
EC calls on candidate countries to focus on fundamental reforms before they can join the EU
The Commission adopted yesterday its 2021 Enlargement Package, providing a detailed assessment of the state of play and the progress made by the ...
Cigarette-eating robot patrols Ghent streets to fight littering
A litter fighting (and eating) robot will be patrolling the streets of Ghent in the coming weeks in an effort to raise awareness of the growing ...
Display of child’s room in Brussels raises awareness of foster families
An exhibit that features a fictitious child’s bedroom has been on display since Tuesday at the Place d'Armes in Namur, with the support of the ...
Brussels Airport becomes shareholder in SkeyDrone
The Brussels Airport company has signed an agreement to become a 50 percent shareholder in SkeyDrone, a subsidiary of skeyes, the Belgian Air ...