The COVID-19 pandemic and, more recently, the Russia-Ukraine conflict have disrupted global energy demand, supply, and international trade patterns and increased price instability in energy markets. The whole world is suffering due to the energy crisis and the crisis shows no signs of slowing down. Rather energy prices are expected to rise further next winter.
Facing significantly higher energy bills, families from different European countries are therefore trying to tackle the matter by investing in residential solar power.
European gas prices have soared on the back of restricted gas supplies from Russia, with contracts linked to TTF, the wholesale European gas price, trading more than 300 percent higher than they were a year ago, straining households as well as utility companies.
Solar power generation saved the EU 20bn cubic metres’ worth of gas imports during the four months, Ember estimated, assuming that all solar was replacing gas. The share of solar power in electricity generation was highest in the Netherlands, at 23 percent, and Germany, at 19 percent.
Poland had the biggest increase in solar power generation in the past five years, with a 26-fold increase between the summer of 2018 and the summer of 2022, Ember said.
Finland, Hungary, Lithuania and the Netherlands had also seen big increases in solar power generation over that period.
According to a report, in the UK, solar installations have reached circa 3,000 installations per week, up from 1,000 a week in July 2020, and enquiries about solar panels rise tenfold.
PowerMarket has released the results of another study that indicates that if the UK used 5% of available UK commercial rooftop space for solar, it could lead to an estimated £12.6 billion per year in energy cost savings.
Detailed within the finds of the Solar Feasibility Study, the results have shown that the 5% of the unused rooftop solar space amounts to around 2,500 hectares of south-facing roof space.
This coincides with statistics identified by the United Kingdom Warehousing Association (UKWA) which fund that unused roofs on warehouses total 18,500 acres of land meaning the UK is missing out on 15GW of solar energy.
PowerMarket also indicates that zero upfront capital expenditure for solar rooftop installation projects is viable via win-win power purchase agreement (PPAs) financing. This makes it ‘almost negligent’ to not seriously evaluate if the space above offices, warehouses, data centers, or science park campus’, amongst others, are ‘hidden cash cows’, the firm said.
Scotland recently made a move to reform the planning rules to incentivize rooftop installations across the nation. Earlier this month, the Scottish Government stated that it had pledged to consult on lifting the need to obtain planning permission for larger solar installations on non-domestic buildings early next year, bringing it in line with planning rules in England.
Implementing a policy that does not require planning permission for non-domestic solar installations, could make the process simpler and could rapidly scale the Scottish solar industry much like the rest of the UK.
Despite supply chain challenges and higher costs, residential solar power is predicted to increase by about 5.6 gigawatts in 2022 in the USA. This increasing trend is projected to continue until 2030.
What about Bangladesh
Bangladesh is also going through a severe energy crisis. The country does not have enough fossil fuel and gas to generate power, whereas energy demand is increasing. As a result, a power cut is happening, and running a diesel generator is not cost-effective as the oil price has increased by almost 50%. In the long run, we need sustainable energy solutions. Renewable energy, especially solar energy, could be the ultimate game changer.
“Rooftop Solar is one of the finest ideas to reduce the power load of the industry along with rolling back carbon emissions and raising the green standard of the industry. Solar power is environmentally friendly and considered as green energy which helps the RMG industries to get a good score to obtain gold/platinum category LEED certification,” said Ezaz Al Qudrat A Mazid, Managing Director of Solar EPC Development Ltd.
In Bangladesh household solar power is yet to be popularized. However, for industrial solar power, the country has great scope as it has more than 7000 thousand RMG factories which have approximately 46.5 million square meter rooftops and can be installed around 5000 MW rooftop solar projects. Moreover, textile industries have approximately 3.7 million square meter rooftops which can be utilized to install around 400 MW rooftop solar projects. Apart from RMG and textile industries, other industries such as pharmaceuticals, paper and packaging, food and beverage, etc. have the potential of 4000 to 5000 MW rooftop solar.
“Installing rooftop solar industries will be beneficial in several ways. Monthly electricity bill savings, as the Levelized cost of the energy (LCOE), will be more than 45% lower considering the existing grid tariff. It will help to achieve green credentials for the industries and finally, it’s a sustainable cost-effective solution,” he said.
Mahmud Hasan Khan Babu, managing director of Rising Group, said, “We think the crisis of gas-based electricity will remain in the long run. Fuel prices are also uncertain. From the experience of the past few years, we may assume that power tariffs will continue to rise.”
Rising Group factories are trying to meet some of their electricity needs through solar panels. “This is also a part of the Sustainable Green Energy Initiative,” Mahmud Hasan added.
The global energy scenario, the so-called Energy Revolution Scenario shows how global CO2 emissions can be reduced from 30 billion tons per year today to about ten billion tons per year by 2050. “This drastic reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is necessary to ensure that the rise in the global average temperature relative to the pre-industrial level does not exceed two degrees Celsius,” Ezaz Al Qudrat A Mazid elaborated.
“Electricity generation from solar energy could help us reduce carbon emissions as we cannot stop industrialization as we consider it as a backbone of our economy. Our choice should be industrialization with rooftop solar to reduce carbon footprint and achieve the government’s renewable energy goal,” he concluded.