Solar power already plays an essential role in the energy system, from small household installations to large-scale projects. In recent years the cost of solar panels has dropped significantly, and they are now among the cheapest forms of electricity generation. Due to decreasing costs and low CO2 emissions, volumes of solar panels will continue to grow in our core markets and around the world; contributing to an increasing proportion of future electrification. Solar panels can also be called photovoltaic panels or PV panels.
For solar energy we see opportunities within three main areas; large scale solar farms, decentralised solar energy solutions and private customers installing solar panels on their own roof. We are exploring several ways to enable our customers in this transformation towards a decentralised energy world and we want to enable our customers to produce their own green electricity.
Large scale solar farms
The first opportunity is developing large scale solar farms, particularly where there is the potential to use existing infrastructure. One such example is the commissioning in 2017 of 5 MW of solar panels co-located at our Parc Cynog Wind farm in Wales.
The solar park, which generates enough energy to meet the needs of the equivalent of 1,440 Welsh households, uses the same grid connection as the wind farm which has helped reduce investment costs.
Another example is the development of the Haringvliet Hybrid Renewable park in the Netherlands where six wind turbines, PV-capacity and a battery are being co-developed and connected to the grid via the same connection. This Hybrid Renewable park will be commissioned in early 2020.
Vattenfall has built up a large scale solar pipeline of more than 1 GW, mostly situated in the Netherlands, Germany and the UK.
Decentralised energy generation
In addition to large scale solar, Vattenfall facilitates decentralised energy generation at the point of consumption for both domestic and business customers. This will result in new energy services where Vattenfall provides solutions for customers' needs, enabling them to generate and consume their own solar electricity.
Customers producing their own electricity
Depending on the regulatory system in place, home storage systems can be combined with PV systems, reducing the amount of electricity consumed from the grid often by well over 30%. Vattenfall wants to be a key player in helping our domestic customers produce their own green electricity right on their roof.
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Growth in solar energy
In 2017 more than 100 GW of solar capacity was installed worldwide and the share of solar energy in electricity production is steadily increasing. Vattenfall is currently developing and building several solar projects.
Solar energy and the environment
The environmental impacts occur mainly during the production of the solar panels, but solar energy emits no emissions during the operation. The environmental impact from the production of the panels is continuously decreasing due to increased use of renewable energy as well as more efficient resource use and production processes. We are one of the few companies to use Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) to keep track of the environmental aspects of solar energy. This gives us environmental data both for PV-systems for consumer installations as well as for large-scale ones.
In addition, Vattenfall has several stringent requirements in place when selecting solar panel and inverter suppliers. In our European tenders to select suppliers, as well as commercial and legal requirements we place high demands on their quality and sustainability. Suppliers must also adhere to Vattenfall’s Code of Conduct.