As you probably know already, solar power plants can be installed either on rooftops or can be located on the ground.

Rooftop solar power plants are typically of small to medium capacities, ranging from a few kWs to usually less than a MW. Ground-mounted projects, on the other hand can run from 1 MW to 100+ MW.

Conceptually, the large, ground-mounted solar farms are not any different from relatively smaller rooftop solar power plants.

They both generate solar power in a similar manner, and in both cases, the solar power gets converted from DC to AC by an inverter.

However, the main difference between rooftop solar and solar farms is in the way the solar power generated is used.
In the case of rooftop solar, the power generated is mostly consumed at the same site, with any small excess exported to the grid.

 

In the case of most ground mounted solar farms, the electricity generated is not used at the site, but instead, is transmitted through the electricity grid to be used in many different places.

Thus, ground mounted solar farms, especially large solar farms that are 100+ MW in size, are a centralized form of power generation, not very different from a coal or nuclear power plant in this context.

A rooftop solar power plant, on the other hand, is a distributed form of power generation, in which the power that is generated is consumed at, or very close to the point of generation. In this case hence, the electricity does not need the grid to be transmitted elsewhere.

Let’s make it easy to remember:

Rooftop Solar = Distributed + Power Consumed at Site

Solar Farms = Centralized + Power Exported to Grid

 

 

Stuff to Remember

Power generated in rooftop solar power plants are usually consumed at site; power generated from large solar farms is usually fed to the grid.