According to a recently released report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, almost 40 percent of U.S. electricity could come from rooftop solar. This three year study, which looked only at the potential of rooftop photovoltaics, indicated that rooftop solar was capable of 1,118 gigawatts—almost double their 2008 estimate of 664 gigawatts. These numbers reflect the overall growth of the solar industry and point to new advancements in solar mounting that make rooftop solar an efficient energy solution for many.
Rooftop solar is a popular option for homeowners and businesses because it utilizes an already existing structure. With less materials needed to mount the modules, rooftop solar is a budget-friendly option for many people.
For some, rooftop PV is the most visually pleasing solar system option because it is unobtrusive on a roof. But while roof mount solar is aesthetically suitable, it also maximizes the available space by putting roofs to work. Especially on large buildings, rooftop solar has the potential to offset a significant portion of a building’s energy usage.
Historically, tilted roofs have been the most suitable for maximizing the potential of rooftop solar, but new technological developments in both photovoltaic modules and roof mounts have made it increasingly feasible for flat roofs to reap the benefits of solar energy. State of the art roof mount systems, like those created by Renusol America, have eliminated the need for long rails and wind deflectors to gain more module density on a given roof. In other words, today’s mounting systems are fitting a larger number of highly-efficient modules on flat roofs.
Just as solar mounting systems are improving every year, solar modules are getting more and more efficient, which could push the NREL’s estimate even higher. And while the study paints an optimistic picture of the potential for roof mount solar, it does not include the additional potential of ground mount and canopy solar solutions. Taking these other solar mounting options into consideration, the U.S. is well on its way to country-wide implementation of clean, renewable energy. Our potential for greater energy independence makes it all the more important to advocate for the tax incentives and state initiatives that make solar energy doable for many families and businesses.