We have all enjoyed the good summer, but the Danish PV plant owners have an extra good reason.
It has been a record year for solar energy and during summer solar power plants in Denmark have produced power equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of 120,000 households.
That is 40 percent more than electricity production in the same period in 2017, when Denmark had a disappointing summer with few hours of sunshine.
With 166 GWh, the month of May was the best month ever for solar power production in Denmark, but overall 2018 has been a successful solar year with 675 GWh through July, a significant increase over 2017, when the figure ended at 529 GWh.
Similarly, a measurement at Solar Polaris' PV plant at Topdanmark's headquarters (1.5 MW) also shows a significant increase in production (more than 30%).
July 2017: July 2018:
190,807 kWh 248,108 kWh
Solar panels working overtime provide cheaper power
The advantage of solar panels is that they have no problem working overtime. The solar panel owners can just sit back and enjoy the sunshine.
For many PV plant owners, the many hours of sunshine have been economically favourable because the price of electricity has actually risen during this summer. The high heat levels have caused nuclear power plants to reduce activity levels, and low tides in Norwegian rivers have reduced hydropower. Therefore, many PV plant owners can offset power at a time when the electricity price is slightly higher than normal and thereby get cheap power.
Besides the fact that owners get the maximum benefit from their photovoltaic system, it also has a positive effect on the environment and the climate, because we get a lot of power produced without the consumption of resources and without pollution.
But we are far from taking full advantage of the potential of the sun's rays
Despite the fact that it has been a record solar year, wind turbines have still produced the majority of green electricity in Denmark.
"Regardless of the prospect of sunnier summers, the Danish electricity market is dominated by wind energy. And that's a problem when we also have a windy summer," says Karsten Hillmann, CEO of Solar Polaris and continues. "It shows that there is obviously a lot more to be gained from photovoltaics which complements the wind so well. The price of solar panels is steadily decreasing and together with innovative solutions and more digitisation, many more will definitely choose solar energy in the future. The societal value of solar electricity is also higher than the value of wind turbine-generated electricity, as solar panels always produce during the day when consumption is highest. But above all, we should look at the fact that the two forms of energy complement each other."
Researchers from DTU have calculated how great the potential is for PV power in Denmark. Completely covering private rooftops, industrial roofs and fields would cover 70 percent of the annual electricity generation. This would be a major expansion of the current solar grid. And the solar cells must become an integral part of construction projects.
"I am of the opinion that we should consider solar panels for all new buildings because it is now so cheap include them. You can even occupy buildings with solar panels for almost the same square meter price as many ordinary building materials", says Sune Thorsteinsson from DTU.
As part of the green transformation of the energy grid, solar cells should help to provide the power to the growing need for renewable energy as society gets more and more electric cars, data centres and heat pumps.
Karsten Hillmann from Solar Polaris has clear messages on what it takes to make roof based PV plants more prominent:
- Abolish the claim that the owner of a building must be identical with the owner of the photovoltaic plant. This will make it possible to make attractive leasing models.
- To start, this must be made possible for production companies, which are, after all, largely exempt from taxation and where the greatest potential exists.
- In the case of liberal professions, tax payments on self-production can be introduced gradually when the technology can support it.
- Abolish the requirement for company formation for municipalities. Municipalities should be able to invest in PV plants on their own buildings on the same terms as regional and state buildings.