Markets - 22/April/2019

Solar PV for heating too

Solar photovoltaic has clear potential to help decarbonise cooling and, in some climates, contribute significantly to the energy transition in heating

A new rooftop solar mandate in California could help set the stage for renewable energy to replace natural gas in space and water heating systems


In theory: Solar photovoltaic —including rooftop installations — can help to decarbonise heating systems

In practice: Yes, especially in warmer countries with relatively high amounts of sunshine in the winter

A word of caution: “If we are proposing electrification as a solution for heating buildings in colder climates, we will see a lot more peak demand for electricity and it certainly will not be possible to satisfy this with solar alone.”

Key quote: “The contribution solar can make to decarbonising heating will be extremely limited without a sharp reduction in energy consumption through efficiency improvements to buildings.”



As temperatures in parts of Australia went shooting up past 45°C in January 2019, air conditioners and the country’s significant and rapidly growing fleet of rooftop solar plants were working at full steam. As power demand surged, behind-the-meter rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) installations were credited with helping to significantly reduce peak demand and soften the blow from coal plants breaking down. “Solar delivers when power is needed most, during peak demand on heatwave days,” says the Australia Institute, a think tank.

Over two million Australian households, about 20% of the total, have rooftop solar, and the commercial and industrial sector rooftop sectors have also posted solid growth. Australia has some 70,000 small-scale commercial and industrial rooftop solar plants, over 20,000 which were installed in 2018 alone. ...

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