Environmental Engineering Reference
Solar tiles look similar to regular roof tiles but provide power for
their owner. Each solar roof on an average house over its lifetime prevents
about 34 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
The energy potential of light falling on building roofs is immense. A
1999 report for the U.K. Department of Trade and Industry stated that PV
systems installed on all available domestic and non-domestic buildings in
the U.K. by 2025 could generate close to their average yearly power needs.
BP Amoco is one of the world's largest manufacturers of photovoltaic cells.
They claim that if every south-facing roof and office wall in the U.K. had
solar panels, this could generate more than the U.K.'s total power require-
In a country like Britain with its cool and wet weather, solar might
not be expected to produce enough energy. But most studies indicate that
solar energy, particularly if complemented by other renewables, could
play a more important role than previously thought.
Many countries have programs for solar power. Germany started its
1,000 Roofs Programme in 1990. This was a joint effort by federal and state
governments for roof-mounted grid connected PV systems in the 1 to 5-
kW range. Installation costs were offset by 70% subsidies and over 2,000
systems were approved. The project has since been increased to 100,000
roofs, which is the equivalent of 300-MW. Italy has a 10,000 PV roof pro-
gram and the Dutch government is aiming for 100,000 PV roofs by 2010
and 560,000 by 2020.
In 1997 the European Commission made a proposal to generate 12%
of the European Union's (EU) power from renewable sources by 2010.
This would include 40,000-MW from wind farms, 10,000-MW from bio-
mass and 50,0000 PV systems on roofs.
BP Solar and several financial institutions recommended a U.K. pro-
gram of at least 70,000 PV rooftops, a national share of the EU target. The
U.K. renewables goal would be 5% of power from renewable sources by
2003, and 10% by 2010.
Another EU plan would export 500,000 PV systems to villages out-
side Europe. These systems would be used for decentralized electrifica-
tion in developing countries, while increasing the solar manufacturing in-
dustry in Europe.
Solar PV is believed to be on the edge of a trillion dollar market.
Many oil companies are diversifying into renewables with optimistic ex-