Millions of Idle Power Plants

Jul 31, 2019 9:05 AM ET

by Ryan Dings, Chief Operating Officer, Sunwealth 

The next time you walk around your community, look up! On the rooftops of buildings all around us, you’ll see idle power plants – potential sites for rooftop solar installations – just waiting to be activated in the fight against climate change.

The Power of Rooftop Solar

Combating climate change requires our economy to make a comprehensive transition to clean energy. If we are to make a full and complete transition, then rooftop solar must be part of the solution. The buildings all around us consume so much power and generate so much carbon. But on top of each building lies potential. Specifically, the rooftops of those buildings have high technical potential to generate solar power right at the point where it is consumed. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s 2016 study, the technical potential of rooftop solar across all building types and sizes could produce enough electricity to equal 39 percent of total national electric-sector sales.

Before any building begins to pull power from the grid, we should maximize the potential for that building to generate its own power. In addition to rooftop solar becoming the hallmark of 21st century green buildings, three compelling reasons for incorporating rooftop solar emerge.

First, maximizing the energy production of a building makes reducing the energy consumption of a building a more meaningful exercise in the fight against climate change. For example, let’s say energy efficiency improvements can reduce a building’s total energy consumption by 25 percent. If you can first generate 50 percent of the building’s power needs through renewable energy (thus cutting its carbon emissions in half), then a 25 percent reduction in the building’s total energy consumption actually has the benefit of reducing the building’s remaining carbon emissions by 50 percent – creating a form of carbon reduction leverage.

Second, generating power on site is simply cheaper than pulling it through hundreds of miles of power lines. Consumers of the power can enjoy energy savings year after year, with many solar systems now designed to last more than twenty years.

Third, each rooftop represents a meaningful impact investment opportunity. A new roof with proper orientation and minimal shading represents a long-term stream of cash flow, because a quality rooftop solar project can produce and sell power year after year and immediately unlock the Investment Tax Credit available for every new commercial and residential solar project placed in service in the United States.

Ryan goes into more detail on all three of these area in his full article here- 


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