Will Rooftop Solar Overtake Utility-Scale Projects?

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Utility scale solar projects often face many delays, which slows development.

Rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems that deliver California solar energy to homes and small businesses are a great way lower or even eliminate utility bills, but each panel array represents only a small part of the overall energy infrastructure.

This has led many electrical companies, developers, investors and governments to press for the construction of utility-scale solar farms that can add hundreds of megawatts of generating capacity to the state’s renewable energy portfolio.

Projects like the Ivanpah Solar Generating Station in the Mojave Desert and the California Valley Solar Ranch (CVSR) in San Luis Obispo, California, promise to expand solar power in the Golden State, but these plants are difficult to get off the ground for a number of reasons.

The Ivanpah facility ran into delays because of those concerned with the native desert tortoise population. The CVSR and other plants often face heated opposition from local residents who fear the stations will create “visual pollution” that could lower property values.

On the other hand, rooftop solar installations on homes and small businesses face none of these problems. Though smaller in size, they can be constructed quicker and when adopted on a wide scale, could end up contributing to the electric grid as much as utility-scale projects.

If the number small-scale solar installation projects continue to grow, it will be good news for the economy and environment. Solar power provides a clean, renewable and steady source of energy unaffected by the price instability that plagues fossil fuels, and could help mitigate the effects of air pollution and anthropogenic climate change.