Alternative Energy

Published on October 9th, 2012 | by Guest Contributor


How Living Roofs Improve Solar Panel Performance

Both green roofs and solar panels have their own set of unique benefits making them well worth consideration on their own. Now with new financing models in place homeowners can go solar with minimal upfront costs. Green roofs have been used for many decades now and benefits like absorbing rainwater, improving insulation, mitigating the heat island effect and many others are all well documented making them an acceptable choice.

Here is how living roofs are improving solar panel performance.

Solar panels

Image via Green Roof Technology

Green Roofs and Solar Panels Make a Great Eco Team

A study conducted at the University of Michigan  (Green roof valuation: a probabilistic economic analysis of environmental benefits) found that a 21,000-square-foot (1,950 m2) green roof brought in about $200,000 in savings over the course of it`s lifetime (compared to a conventional roof). Almost two thirds of these savings came from lower energy consumption.

One neat thing about plants is through evaporation they lower surrounding air temperatures. It also happens to be that photovoltaic solar panels perform better when cooled. Another component is that green roofs remove pollutants from the air, which at the same time keep dust particles away from the solar cells. This will not only make maintenance easier, but also allow the solar panels to absorb more sunlight.

Several research teams across the globe have therefore started projects to assess exactly how much of a performance boost can be achieved by combining the two:

According to sister site CleanTechnica “solar panels mounted on a green roof will produce significantly more energy – up to 16% more – than those mounted on a non-living roof, especially during summer’s higher temperatures.”

solar panel

Another experiment by Bronx Design & Construction Academy found that the efficiency boost is about three percent (check out their blog to learn more about their project).

Image via Green Roof Integrated Photovoltaic Canopy

Although the results from these experiments are very different, both illustrate that there are benefits to reap in by combining the two technologies. A couple of percentages can make a lot of difference in the solar power industry, which in the long run will bring solar panels cost down and make green energy accessible to more people.

What do you think about these two eco-options and would you consider either or both?


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