The Path to Drawdown: Rooftop Solar
To solve climate change and remain below 1.5ºC of global warming, the globe needs to switch to generating power from fossil fuels to using 100% emissions free sources.
The largest source of this clean energy is the sun (barring advances in nuclear fusion). Photovoltaic or PV solar panels (the kind you see on rooftops) have emerged as the predominant way of capturing the sun's energy and converting it into electricity.
The industry has been growing fast and, as of 2020, solar panels are now the cheapest source of electricity in most places on earth.
Solar produces ~2% of global electricity today. According to Project Drawdown, to be on a path to remain under 1.5ºC of warming, rooftop (aka distributed) solar will need to be generating a combined ~14% of global electricity by 2050.
There are approximately 67.2m residential buildings in the US that are suitable for solar. As of 2020, approximately 3.5% of them have solar panels.
So, to be on a path to Drawdown, rooftop solar is going to need to continue to massively scale across the globe over the few next decades:
- <::marker> 183 TWh of rooftop solar electricity generated in 2018 (approximately 15 million buildings)
- <::marker> 3348 TWh of rooftop solar needed by 2030 (approximately 280 million buildings)
- <::marker> CAGR of 14.8% from 2018 - 2030
- <::marker> 10,341 TWh (or 6.16 TW) of rooftop solar needed by 2050. (>800 million buildings, using today’s PV efficiency numbers)
- <::marker> CAGR of 13.44% from 2018 - 2050
It’s important to note that in addition to manufacturing and installation capacity, rooftop solar will likely need support of additional decarbonization technologies, specifically batteries and microgrids, to reach this level of scale.