Solar - Large-scale vs residential

Wouter Draijer
Nicola Kleihues
Catarina Augusto
SolarPower Europe
Sarah Merrick
Ripple Energy

Large-scale solar and residential solar installations each have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. For example, large scale solar farms can be optimized for the optimal sunlight exposure, yet they require large stretches of land to do so, which often creates environmental concerns. Residential solar gives homeowners some semblance of energy independence, but also a lot of maintenance and upkeep.

We sat down with four experts to discuss the pros and cons of each. For Nicola Kleihues, Director of Portfolio Management and Transactions at Vattenfall, he doesn’t see the issue as a “versus” situation: “I think it's where you apply the technology or how you scale.” He says, “Utility scale solar is much cheaper than residential, but I think more residential solutions are needed. That is the key that we need to drive the energy transition forward.”

Wouter Draijer, Founder/CEO of Solarmente, also believes it’s not as simple as one or the other. “It should be a balance of large scale solar installations together with the prosumer.” He believes that people should be able to use a lot of electricity while on a low penetration site. 

Catarina Augusto, Senior Technical Advisor at SolarPower Europe, points out that one hurdle could be the lack of consistency: “Regarding when we connect a project to the grid, there are no uniform rules for OEMS in Europe or even nationally. There is no clear timeline of the process as it develops.” She says that the biggest problem may be the lack of digitalization. 

Sarah Merrick, founder & CEO of Ripple Energy, warns, “If you are an end consumer, without your own source of clean power, you will be vulnerable to whatever the current electricity price is.” Her advice? “Consumers have to be at the top of the value chain, not just sitting at the bottom where they have been for decades.”

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