Climate change will increase the value of solar panels –

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As the world grapples with the increasing impacts of climate change, the allure of residential rooftop solar panels is set to rise, potentially increasing in value by up to 19 percent by the century’s end.

Experts at the University of Michigan, leading a new study, have examined the expected increase in solar panel value. They attribute this rise to several factors that highlight the practical advantages of using solar energy at home.

“Rooftop solar adoption is critical for residential decarbonization and hinges on its value to households,” wrote the researchers. “Climate change will probably affect the value of rooftop solar through impacts on rooftop solar generation and cooling demand, but no studies have quantified this effect.”

Understanding the value of solar panels

The “value of solar” (VOS) captures the net financial benefits homeowners receive from installing solar panels. These benefits include significant savings on electricity bills and the potential to earn money by selling excess power back to the grid, after covering the initial installation costs.

Moreover, this concept is crucial for households considering the switch to solar, as it emphasizes the dual financial and environmental returns on investment.

Solar panel value and market dynamics

A core finding of the study is that the financial benefits of rooftop solar extend beyond immediate gains. They are also oriented towards future savings.

With an average lifespan of 25 years, solar systems installed today are set to benefit from the weather conditions of 2050 and beyond.

“Given the average 25-year lifespan of a rooftop solar installation, a system built today will nearly experience 2050 weather. It’s crucial for households to consider this future value when installing solar,” said Michael Craig, the senior author of the study.

The research highlights an expected increase in household earnings from solar installations. These could potentially reach hundreds of dollars annually by the end of the century.

The rising demand for residential air-conditioning as global temperatures climb drives this projection. Additionally, climate variables are likely to cause adjustments in the performance of solar panels, further influencing their economic value.

Geographic variations in solar gains

The researchers studied data from 2,000 households in 17 major U.S. cities. They looked at future scenarios for air-conditioning demand and solar-panel performance.

Interestingly, most cities could see increased value in rooftop solar systems, with Miami showing the largest rise. Conversely, Minneapolis stood out as an exception. In this city, the financial benefits might decrease due to smaller increases in cooling demand and reduced solar panel efficiency.

Broader impact on solar adoption

The study also highlights an encouraging trend. Increased public awareness of the financial value of solar power could accelerate the adoption of more solar panels.

Furthermore, this shift would not only benefit individual households but also broadly contribute to decarbonizing the power generation system. The impact would resonate both in the U.S. and globally.

“Greater cooling demand means more solar power is consumed at the household rather than sent back to the grid,” said Craig. “And it’s generally more valuable for a rooftop photovoltaic owner to consume the power generated by their PV panel, rather than exporting it to the grid.”

Economic inequalities

While the economic advantages of rooftop solar are clear, the initial costs can pose a barrier for many. In response, various programs have emerged to offset installation costs and expand access to solar technology, especially for lower-income households.

Additionally, government initiatives are actively installing solar panels on public buildings and promoting community solar programs. These efforts aim to extend benefits more broadly, ensuring an inclusive transition to renewable energy.

Solar panels: Key to a sustainable future

The University of Michigan study is a pioneering effort to quantify the evolving value of rooftop solar panels under the impact of climate change. It underscores a compelling financial case for residential solar power, projecting not only increased savings but also greater energy independence for future generations.

As the climate warms, solar power emerges as a crucial alternative. It’s not just viable; it’s essential for a sustainable and economically stable future.

The study is published in the journal Nature Climate Change.


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