Study: Rooftop solar panels could power up to 35% of American manufacturing

May 17, 2023
The study, conducted by CEE Associate Professor Matthew Eckelman and MIE Professor and Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Jacqueline Isaacs, was published in IOP Publishing’s journal Environmental Research: Sustainability and Infrastructure.

A new study from Northeastern University College of Engineering claims that rooftop solar arrays on plants and facilities have the potential to provide up to 35% of U.S. manufacturing’s power needs. The study, conducted by CEE Associate Professor Matthew Eckelman and MIE Professor and Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Jacqueline Isaacs, was published in IOP Publishing’s journal Environmental Research: Sustainability and Infrastructure. Using information from the U.S. Department of Energy Manufacturing Energy Consumption Survey, the team compared modeled electricity supply intensity for solar photovoltaic arrays with the electricity demand per unit of floorspace for average manufacturing buildings.

In an except from the paper, the researchers write: “Compared to off-site sourcing of renewable energy, pursuing on-site PV installations can also enable manufacturers to maintain limited operations during periods of grid disruption, especially when coupled with on-site energy storage. Overall, the results indicate a substantial physical opportunity for industrial firms to expand rooftop solar PV from currently low levels to help meet decarbonization goals.”