According to a paper published in the renewable and sustainable energy reviews of Elsevier, a scientific and medical information analysis company, the roof area of Europe is three times that of Luxembourg, and if used effectively, it can provide nearly a quarter of the electricity supply in Europe.
Researchers from the joint research center of the European Commission wrote that “the use of this potential at the national and regional levels can bring benefits to employment in the manufacturing, installation and operation sectors”, while promoting “the transformation of the whole EU into a low-carbon energy system”.
The vast majority of Europeans support the shift to clean energy to curb climate change, but governments have been struggling to find effective solutions. Despite record investment in solar and wind energy, Germany, the economic engine of the European Union, is expected to fail to deliver on its emission reduction commitments.
At the same time, due to the weak investment in upgrading the power grid, development bottlenecks have emerged between regions using intermittent renewable energy and those still relying on polluting fossil fuel plants.
The new study suggests that a closer focus on rooftop solar energy resources may help policymakers plan more effectively as electric vehicles enter the market and increase demand for electricity.
“Rooftop solar systems can meet this growing demand for electricity, and if designed primarily to provide electricity to local residents, they can avoid grid congestion and increased dispatch costs,” the researchers wrote
There are about 7935 square kilometers of roofs in Europe, which can generate about 680276 gigawatt hours of electricity every year. The sharp drop in the cost of solar power means that the price of rooftop solar panels may be more economical, the report said. In many parts of the world, the cost of solar power generation is equivalent to that of traditional power generation.
“This report may encourage the government to support rooftop solar energy, avoid any trade-off between energy and land use, and may be welcomed by rooftop owners,” said Jenny chase, a solar analyst at the consultancy
Compared with the long-term electricity returns measured over the past 25 years, homeowners have been cautious about the high upfront investment costs of solar panels, she said.
According to the report, Cyprus, Portugal, Malta, Greece and Italy have the greatest potential to deploy rooftop solar energy in the future, followed by France, Spain and Germany. Eastern European countries ranked last because there are still many obstacles to installing solar power equipment on their roofs.