Powering Strong Communities

Solar Panels on Warehouse Roofs Could Bolster Grid, Report Says

Putting solar panels on warehouse roofs could generate 185.6 terawatt-hours of electricity a year, according to a report from Environment America Research & Policy Center.

The United States has more than 450,000 warehouses with almost 16.4 billion cumulative square feet of rooftop space, according to the report, Solar on Warehouses, from the advocacy group.

In addition, the number of warehouses has been growing quickly, especially during the first few years of the COVID-19 pandemic with more than 626 million square feet of warehouse space under construction in the first half of 2022, the authors said. The states with the largest warehouse solar generation potential are California, Florida, Illinois, Texas, and Georgia, they added.

Putting solar panels on warehouses would be good for businesses, good for electricity customers, good for the grid, and good for the environment, the report’s authors said. In addition, they said, on average warehouses could produce 176 percent of their annual electricity use by fully building out their rooftop solar potential, allowing them to produce more electricity than they use and provide electricity to their communities.

And because rooftop solar on warehouses has the potential for the electricity produced to be consumed locally, it reduces the need for new utility-scale generation and transmission infrastructure, the report said. Rooftop solar also makes the grid more resilient to outages and disruptions, the authors said.

The report recommended that businesses should set goals to install solar generation on their facilities. The report also recommended that government officials should implement policies that help to accelerate adoption of solar energy by businesses, including ensuring that businesses that generate solar power are adequately compensated through programs like net metering, feed-in tariffs and value-of-solar payments.

The report also recommended that government officials enable and enact financing tools like third-party and Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy financing of solar installations, support community solar power programs that allow businesses to enter solar partnerships with their communities, and streamline and reduce the costs of solar permitting and interconnection processes to make going solar easier and faster.