The electricity needs of more than three million homes in Europe could be met just by using rooftop solar panels, a new study has found.
More than half of the 40 million homes in Europe could be self-sufficient by 2020 using only solar panels and batteries, according to research by researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, a public university in Germany. According to estimates, by 2050, 75 percent of homes will be covered by this option.
Advances in solar technology could also help lower the financial costs of single-family homes, while also shedding their reliance on the electricity grid in the coming decades, the British daily Independent reports.
However, instead of ending reliance on the grid entirely, the researchers suggest, it would make sense to reduce its use and sustain that source of electricity for potential emergencies.
“Our results show that even in 2050, complete isolation from the grid will not be financially feasible. However, adding systems like solar power can make tiny houses self-sufficient in energy.” — said Max Kleinbram, researcher at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology’s ‘Energy Economics’ department and the research.
“As more homes move off the electrical grid, however, its efficiency will also decrease.”
The research is detailed in a paper titled ‘Two million European single-family homes could abandon the grid by 2050’, published in the scientific journal Joule.
Solar panel prices have fallen sharply in recent years, with the cost of solar energy falling by more than 90 percent in the past decade, according to calculations published in September by the Berlin-based research firm Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC).
According to the study’s lead author, Felix Krutzig, falling costs could mean that by 2050, the world’s electricity demand could be “completely and cost-effectively met by solar and other renewable technologies”.
Meanwhile, another study by the University of Exeter and University College London, published last month, found that solar energy technology had reached its ‘maximum capacity’. And it will become the main source of global electricity in the next three decades.
“Recent advances in the renewable energy sector mean that fossil fuel assumptions are no longer realistic.” – says University of Exeter researcher Femke Nijse.
“We tested the movements of all three models and got positive response. Our projections suggest that solar PV will dominate the global power sector by the middle of this century.”