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Rooftop Solar Set to Soar in Value Amid Climate Change

published: 2024-05-06 17:11

A recent study by University of Michigan researchers suggests that climate change could significantly enhance the value of residential rooftop solar panels in the United States. Published in Nature Climate Change under the title “Climate Change's Influence on Residential Rooftop Solar: Impact on Value and Adoption," the research provides quantitative insights into how climate change will affect the value and optimal deployment of rooftop solar systems. Drawing on data from 2,000 households across 17 U.S. cities, the researchers examined the projected impacts of climate change on both air-conditioning demand and the performance of solar panels in future climate scenarios.

Mai Shi, the lead author of the study, highlighted to pv magazine the groundbreaking nature of their research, being the first to quantify the impact of climate change on the future value of rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems for households. "When we talk about value, we're referring to the economic benefits—how much households can save on their electricity bills by installing rooftop solar," Shi clarified. "Our analysis encompasses the ways in which climate change will influence household electricity demand, particularly through heightened cooling needs, and the generation potential of rooftop PV systems.”

The researchers projected that under moderate climate change conditions by mid-century, the value of rooftop solar installations across a diverse array of U.S. cities could surge by 5% to 15%, with potential increases reaching up to 20% by the century's end. Their analysis revealed that homes with higher cooling needs and cities boasting escalating radiation levels and elevated retail electricity prices are likely to witness the most substantial upticks in solar value.

Among the 17 cities surveyed, Miami and Orlando emerged as the frontrunners for experiencing the most significant boosts in solar value. According to Shi, the lead author of the study, these cities are poised to benefit from climate change-induced rises in solar radiation, thereby enhancing the potential for increased rooftop PV generation. Simultaneously, escalating air temperatures are anticipated to drive up household electricity demand, further contributing to the heightened value of solar installations in these locales.

The researchers further determined that as the value of rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems escalates, the economically optimal capacity for households is expected to increase accordingly. They projected a capacity surge ranging from 5% to 25% by the close of the century under a moderate climate scenario. Highlighting the implications of their findings for both current and prospective rooftop PV consumers, Shi emphasized the importance of considering future value when investing in solar installations. "Given that a rooftop solar system typically has a lifespan of around 25 years, it's crucial for households to factor in the anticipated weather conditions up to 2050,” Shi remarked. "By doing so, our research suggests that households could potentially derive even greater value from solar energy, potentially prompting them to opt for larger installations.”

From PV Magazine

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