Self-consumption: a sustainable alternative for energy production? Some countries are very interested!
Today, the world is thinking about new ways of producing energy, and thus responding to the challenges of the energy transition. In response to the Paris Agreement on climate change, discussions for the implementation of sustainable alternatives were initiated very early by some countries prone to natural disasters or whose space constraints are strong. This is the case, for example, in Japan and the Netherlands, which are seriously considering solar self-consumption in their roadmap for the coming years.
The Paris Agreement  calls for a reduction in CO2 emissions from signatory countries in the medium and long term through five-year cycles of increasingly ambitious climate action by each country. That’s why the International Energy Agency (IEA) has set a target of achieving “zero emissions” over the next 30 years. This ambition leads to a growing need for renewable energy, which will have to be multiplied by 5 to reach this goal, and whose primary source in the world will be photovoltaic according to the IAE roadmap. Some countries, whose geography causes a strong space constraint and climate is prone to natural disasters, are already thinking about possible sustainable alternatives to put in place. Their governments favor the development of renewable energies in the forms most conducive to their geographical specificities, but they share a strong appetite for increasing photovoltaics.
Roofs, umbrellas, facades are all supports that can accommodate and multiply photovoltaic production, but these traditional surfaces are not enough to meet the growing need for local solar production, not to mention their landscape integration. One of the key solutions is photovoltaic integration in trafficable surface, already built all over the world. It represents an opportunity to continue to expand the photovoltaic surfaces without artificializing additional soil, for the building self-consumption and the autonomy of equipment.
The Netherlands has already dealt with this. The country, with a quarter of its territory and 9 million inhabitants below sea level, is very concerned about the energy transition and wants to reduce its CO2 emissions by 49% by 2030. To achieve this goal, the government wants to increase the use of sustainable alternatives for energy production, such as wind and solar. But the task is complex, as space is so rare in the Netherlands. The production of photovoltaic energy on the 35,000 km of cycle paths in the country is an important potential that the public authorities wish to test to optimize this underexploited land. Concretely, it led to a joint work by 4 provinces (South Holland, North Brabant, North Holland, Utrecht) which will pilot the implementation of integrated solar panels in bike paths, so that sustainable electricity is produced without taking up additional space. The four provinces have jointly agreed to monitor and evaluate these pilots, to continue learning together, and to be able to inform other stakeholders about the opportunities offered by this concept.
In Japan, a country composed of an imposing mountain range that occupies almost 70% of the area and which, by its geographical location is in an area favorable to the occurrence of climatic hazards, it is the Ministry of Territory, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism  who wish to promote solar energy. The goal is to integrate solar pavement technology into renewable energy regulations to equip the city’s roads and parks. With an average density of 335 inhabitants/km² (and several thousand inhabitants per km² in large cities), Japan must use all the existing space to provide the country’s energy needs. Road-integrated photovoltaics appear to be a relevant solution in many ways, and many projects are being rolled out, led by private companies as well as by the government, to meet Japan’s energy challenges.
The progressive development of these solutions in the trafficable surface is one of the ways for each country to equip itself with local power plants, a strategic challenge to limit its energy dependence and respond to the challenge of the ecological transition.