A new study reports that 53% of European freestanding homes could have generated all the energy they needed in 2020 using only solar power from their rooftops. By 2050, this could increase to 75%. However, the study found that there is currently no economic advantage for households to be fully self-sufficient. The costs of becoming self-sufficient are similar to staying connected to the grid. The researchers estimate that in 2050, it could be economically feasible for 5% of Europe’s 41 million freestanding homes to be fully self-sufficient, if households are willing to pay up to 50% more than the cost of remaining grid dependent. The lead author of the study suggests that even though going off-grid won’t be the most economic choice in the future, it could still make sense for some households to invest in self-sufficient buildings if they are willing to pay more for it. The researchers identified regions and building types that are more suitable for self-sufficiency. Countries with sunny climates and larger rooftops, such as Cyprus, Malta, Italy, Denmark, Slovenia, the Netherlands, and France, have more potential for self-sufficiency. The study also suggests that partial self-sufficiency, where a building remains connected to the grid but also invests in renewable energy systems, could help lower household energy costs. The researchers recommend that policymakers and utility companies encourage self-sufficient households to remain connected to the grid to maintain efficiency.
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