Rooftop photovoltaic power station

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Rooftop PV systems around the world: Chicago, United States (top-right), Berlin, Germany (middle) and Kuppam, India (bottom-right)

A rooftop photovoltaic power station, or rooftop PV system, is a photovoltaic system that has its electricity-generating solar panels mounted on the rooftop of a residential or commercial building or structure.[1] The various components of such a system include photovoltaic modules, mounting systems, cables, solar inverters and other electrical accessories.[2]

Rooftop mounted systems are small compared to ground-mounted photovoltaic power stations with capacities in the megawatt range. Rooftop PV systems on residential buildings typically feature a capacity of about 5 to 20 kilowatts (kW), while those mounted on commercial buildings often reach 100 kilowatts or more.


Rooftop PV systems at Googleplex, California

The urban environment provides a large amount of empty rooftop spaces and can inherently avoid the potential land use and environmental concerns. Estimating rooftop solar insolation is a multi-faceted process, as insolation values in rooftops are impacted by the following:

  • Time of the year
  • Weather conditions
  • Shading from adjacent buildings
  • Shading from overhanging vegetation
  • Roof slope
  • Roof aspect
  • Shading from adjacent buildings and trees[3]

There are various methods for calculating potential solar PV roof systems including the use of LiDAR[4] and orthophotos.[5] Sophisticated models can even determine shading losses over large areas for PV deployment at the municipal level.[6]

Feed-in tariff mechanism[edit]

In a grid connected rooftop photovoltaic power station, the generated electricity can be sold to the grid at a price higher than what the grid charges for the consumers. This arrangement provides payback for the investment of the installer. Many consumers from across the world are switching to this mechanism owing to the revenue yielded. The FIT as its commonly known has led to an expanision in the solar PV industry worldwide. Thousands of jobs have been created through this form of subsidy. However it can produce a bubble effect which can burst when the FIT is removed. It has also increased the ability for localised production and embedded generation reducing transmission losses through power lines.[2]

Hybrid systems[edit]

A rooftop photovoltaic power station (either on-grid or off-grid) can be used in conjunction with other power sources like diesel generators, wind turbine etc. This system is capable of providing a continuous source of power.[2]


Installers have the right to feed solar electricity into the public grid and hence receive a reasonable premium tariff per generated kWh reflecting the benefits of solar electricity to compensate for the current extra costs of PV electricity.[2]


An electrical power system containing a 10% contribution from PV stations would require a 2.5% increase in load frequency control (LFC) capacity over a conventional system. The break-even cost for PV power generation is found to be relatively high for contribution levels of less than 10%. Higher proportions of PV power generation gives lower break-even costs, but economic and LFC considerations imposed an upper limit of about 10% on PV contributions to the overall power systems.[7]

Future prospects[edit]

The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission of the Indian government is planning to install utility scale grid-connected solar photovoltaic systems including rooftop photovoltaic systems with the combined capacity of up to 20 gigawatts by 2022.[8]


Installation gallery

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Armstrong, Robert (12 November 2014). "The Case for Solar Energy Parking Lots". Absolute Steel. Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Photovoltaic power generation in the buildings. Building integrated photovoltaic–BIPV". Retrieved 2011-06-20. 
  3. ^ "Energy Resources and Resource Criteria". Retrieved 2011-06-20. 
  4. ^ Ha T. Nguyen, Joshua M. Pearce, Rob Harrap, and Gerald Barber, “The Application of LiDAR to Assessment of Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic Deployment Potential on a Municipal District Unit”, Sensors, 12, pp. 4534-4558 (2012).
  5. ^ L.K. Wiginton, H. T. Nguyen, J.M. Pearce, “Quantifying Solar Photovoltaic Potential on a Large Scale for Renewable Energy Regional Policy”, Computers, Environment and Urban Systems 34, (2010) pp. 345-357. [1]Open access
  6. ^ Nguyen, Ha T.; Pearce, Joshua M. (2012). "Incorporating shading losses in solar photovoltaic potential assessment at the municipal scale". Solar Energy 86 (5): 1245–1260. doi:10.1016/j.solener.2012.01.017. 
  7. ^ Asano, H.; Yajima, K.; Kaya, Y. (Mar 1996). "Influence of photovoltaic power generation on required capacity for load frequency control". IEEE Transactions on Energy Conversion (IEEE Power & Energy Society) 11 (1): 188–193. doi:10.1109/60.486595. ISSN 0885-8969. Retrieved 2011-07-20. 
  8. ^ "POWER TO THE PEOPLE-Investing in Clean Energy for the Base of the Pyramid in India". Retrieved 2011-06-20.