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News Room: Industry News

Green Roofs Improve Solar Panel Efficiency

Wednesday, December 5, 2012   (0 Comments)
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Solar panels on green roofs, like these in New York City, can operate more efficiently because the surrounding air is cooled by plants.

By Erin Weaver

Green roofs are known to extend roof life, conserve energy, and reduce stormwater runoff and air pollution; new studies show they can also boost the performance of solar panels. Plants reduce a roof’s contribution to the urban heat-island effect by lowering the surrounding air temperature through evaporation; this cooling can also make photovoltaic panels perform more efficiently. Plants also reduce airborne pollutants and dust particles, allowing the panels to absorb more sunlight.

Studies vary in the efficiency boosts reported, from 3% to 16%. This is in addition to green roofs’ known effect of cooling indoor air, which reduces annual energy use by 6%, according to a recent French study.

New designs for solar arrays allow water to drain evenly across the roof, and research suggests that the biodiversity created by including shade-tolerant plants below the panels can improve a green roof’s overall performance. A recent British study inBuilding and Environmentfound that broad-leafed plants such as lamb’s ear, which can thrive in partial shade, outperformed the traditional sedum in cooling the substrate and surrounding air.

December 1, 2012
1.Photo: Green Roof Technology

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