Climate change will increase the future value of residential rooftop solar panels across the United States by up to 19% by the end of the century, according to new research.

The study defines the value of solar, or VOS, as household-level financial benefits from electricity bill savings plus revenues from selling excess electricity to the grid—minus the initial installation costs.

For many US households, increased earnings from residential rooftop solar could total up to hundreds of dollars annually by the end of the century, the researchers say.

The study is published in Nature Climate Change.

“Given the average 25-year lifespan of a rooftop solar installation, a system built today will nearly experience 2050 weather,” says senior author Michael Craig, assistant professor of energy systems at the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability and of industrial and operations engineering at the College of Engineering.

“So, it’s important for households to think of future value when building solar. If households do so, our findings indicate they would see even greater value from solar, and might decide to build more.”

Public awareness of the increased future value of rooftop solar could spur greater adoption of the technology, which in turn could accelerate efforts to decarbonize the power-generation system in the United States and globally, the study shows.

The expected financial gains seen in the study were driven largely by increased demand for residential air-conditioning as the climate warms. The other key factor affecting the value of rooftop photovoltaic systems, the researchers say, is future solar-panel performance in response to climate change.

Craig and colleagues analyzed data from 2,000 households in 17 US cities and estimated air-conditioning demand and solar-panel performance under future climates using a moderate climate-warming scenario called RCP-4.5.

The value of rooftop solar panels increased in nearly all the cities, in both warm and cold locations. Miami saw the largest increase in value, while only Minneapolis saw a decrease in the financial benefits of rooftop solar for households.

“This is the first study to quantify the value of rooftop solar under climate change, and we show that households across the US will realize greater cost savings from rooftop solar under future weather than under historic weather,” says lead author Mai Shi, a former University of Michigan visiting doctoral student now at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

Read the full article about climate change by Jim Erickson at Futurity.