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Small-scale solar has key benefits, and one critical weakness, over large solar farms

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By illuminem briefings

· 2 min read

Illuminem summarizes for you the essential news of the day. Read the full piece on The Conversation or enjoy below:

🗞️ Driving the news: A new life-cycle analysis reveals that small-scale solar systems are more environmentally beneficial than large solar farms
• Despite the lower costs of large-scale solar operations, the study coauthored by Riya Roy at the University of Western Ontario finds that rooftop solar systems are more efficient in energy use, produce fewer greenhouse gases, and consume less water

🔭 The context: Solar photovoltaic costs have significantly dropped, making solar electricity often the cheapest power source
• The study compares the environmental impact of rooftop solar systems to multi-megawatt utility-scale solar photovoltaic systems, considering factors like material use and transmission losses

🌍 Why it matters for the planet: The study underscores the need for a diversified approach to solar energy deployment
• While large-scale solar farms have their place, the superior environmental performance of small-scale systems highlights their importance in a comprehensive renewable energy strategy

⏭️ What's next: The research suggests combining rooftop solar with agrivoltaics, which merges solar energy and agriculture, to maximize land use and energy production
• This hybrid approach could be key in meeting energy demands without compromising agricultural productivity or environmental health

💬 One quote: "Our life cycle analysis study found rooftop solar systems require 21% to 54% less input energy, make 18% to 59% less carbon dioxide equivalent of greenhouse gas emissions, and consume a reduced quantity of water ranging from 1% to 12% per kilowatt-peak” (Joshua M. Pearce, scholar and author)

📈 One stat: The energy payback time of rooftop solar systems is approximately 51% to 57% lower than that of ground-mounted solar systems

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