680 TWh Annual Rooftop Solar Power Potential For EU

EIT & JRC Estimate 680 TWh Of Annual Rooftop Solar PV Power Generation Potential For European Union Using Geospatial & Statistical Data With Machine Learning
02:15 PM (Beijing Time) - 11. August 2019
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The European Union can exploit its rooftop solar power potential with the help of correct assessment using geospatial, statistical data combined with machine learning, according to a new research paper. (Photo Credit: EC-Audiovisual Service/European Union)

Key Takeaways

  • Rooftops in the European Union (EU) hold the potential to produce 680 TWh of solar power annually out of which two thirds can be produced at a cost lower than current residential tariffs
  • This should translate into close to 25% of current electricity consumption compared to all PV produced power accounting for only 3.94% in 2016
  • To arrive at this assessment, authors of a research paper combined satellite-based and statistical data sources with machine learning
  • The research paper 'A high-resolution geospatial assessment of the rooftop solar photovoltaic potential in the European Union' has been created by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) Ispra, Italy and the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) Budapest, Hungary
  • Authors claim this flexible approach can help work out an estimate for economic potential of each European nation

Rooftops in the European Union (EU) hold the potential to produce 680 TWh of solar power annually out of which two thirds can be produced at a cost lower than the current residential tariffs. To arrive at this assessment, authors of a research paper combined satellite-based and statistical data sources with machine learning to provide a reliable assessment of the technical potential for rooftop PV electricity production with a spatial resolution of 100m across the EU.

The research paper ‘A high-resolution geospatial assessment of the rooftop solar photovoltaic potential in the European Union’ has been created by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) Ispra, Italy and the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) Budapest, Hungary.

Comparing the geospatial model with country-specific values for cost of capital and for electricity prices, the authors of the paper claim that almost 25% of current EU electricity consumption could be produced by rooftop solar systems. In comparison, all PV produced power accounted for just 3.94% in 2016.

Using the same ‘highly flexible’ methodology and comparing it with country-specific values for cost of capital and for electricity prices, the paper argues an estimate of economic potential for each EU nation can also be worked out.

Such a system, if backed by friendly policies, could help exploit the potential for rooftop solar at country and regional level and can lead to better job creation in the supply chain including manufacturing, installation and operational sectors. At the same time, it can mobilize citizens in contributing to achieving the EU’s transition to a low-carbon energy system.

Currently, the EU is targeting a 32% share of renewables in gross final energy consumption by 2030. To realize this, the region will need to have at least 65% share of renewables in the total energy mix, which means a solar contribution of 440 TWh annually. This implies the scope for tens of millions of new rooftop systems, the paper points out.

Rooftop solar systems are designed to cater to this demand and if, the authors point out, these systems produce electricity mainly for local consumption, while problems of grid congestion and dispatch cost can be avoided.

The paper will be published in the October 2019 edition of  ScienceDirect journal, but is available already online.

Earlier in August 2019, in a report the JRC claimed 730.3 GW solar PV potential for Europe’s coal regions in transition which it said can fully substitute current coal fired power generation when supported by flexible production and storage. It also estimated 88 GW of rooftop solar potential for the mine areas (see EU’s Coal Regions Hold 874 TWh Solar PV Potential).

Anu Bhambhani

Anu Bhambhani is the Senior News Editor of TaiyangNews

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