Small-scale solar power is great for the environment, but agrivoltaics may be the answer – PV Magazine USA



A life cycle analysis showed that while rooftop solar is better for the environment, a combination of both is necessary.

A study conducted at the University of Western Ontario compared large-scale solar installations with small-scale solar installations, and found that the largest and most efficient utility-scale solar projects outperformed the small-scale solar installations. We conclude that photovoltaic systems are better for the environment.

According to Ernst & Young’s Energy and Resources Report, solar power is the fastest-growing option in both the U.S. and Canada today, in part because solar energy is the lowest cost of new electricity in many markets. The scale is expanding. The levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) for solar power is 29% lower than the cheapest fossil fuel alternative.

We need to install more solar panels to eliminate carbon emissions and meet the U.S. and Canada’s clean energy goals. A study of Canada’s agricultural potential predicts that large-scale solar farms would require just 1% of Canada’s farmland to offset all the fossil fuels used to generate electricity. Ta. That’s a modest amount of land, but researchers at the University of Western Ontario are wondering whether it’s better for the environment to install a few large solar farms or many small rooftop systems. I wondered.

A life cycle analysis study conducted by Riya Roy and Joshua M. Pearce compared a rooftop solar PV system to a multi-megawatt utility-scale solar PV system from production to retirement. They found that rooftop solar systems require 21% to 54% less input energy, emit 18% to 59% less carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce water consumption by 1% per kilowatt peak. We found that it was reduced by 12%.


Therefore, the researchers calculated that the energy recovery time for rooftop solar systems is approximately 51% to 57% lower than ground-mounted solar systems at all locations. The main reason for this is that rooftop systems do not require the racks and trackers used in large facilities. -Scale projects. Additionally, they are typically close to power lines, whereas many utility-scale installations require additional lines or have to account for transmission losses when running long distances.

Source: Joshua M. Pierce

Researchers determined that carbon capture time is 378% to 428% longer for large-scale, ground-mounted solar installations compared to rooftop solar for the same modules.


The study shows that smaller rooftop installations are more environmentally friendly, but considering heating and transportation, there aren’t enough rooftops to meet electrification needs, so a combination of both is needed. conclude the researchers. According to the authors of the study, agriculture has advantages because it is dual-use, using land for both energy generation and food production.

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