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A Spatial Analysis of the Distribution of Rooftop and Community Solar Potential

Authors: Torsten Schunder*, SUNY - Buffalo, Dameng Yin, SUNY - Buffalo, Sharmistha Bagchi-Sen, SUNY - Buffalo, Krishna Rajan, SUNY - Buffalo
Topics: Energy
Keywords: Solar energy, Photovoltaics, Solar potential distribution, Solar potential assessment, Uneven distribution
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Solar energy is considered a potential solution for transitioning to renewable sources for electrification. Physical and socio-economic conditions that are important determinants of solar access and use are discussed in the literature. However, the relative access of neighborhoods and population groups to solar potential (i.e., rooftop solar and community solar) is rarely investigated. We use DEM, LIDAR, and tax parcel data to examine the pattern of rooftop and community solar potential. Underlying socio-demographic context is used to assess the distribution of solar potential in the context of different population characteristics and show if community based solar projects are a solution for population groups who have limited access to rooftop solar. Results indicate that low income and minority population not only have relatively low access to rooftop solar but they also have limited access to potential community solar sites in their neighborhoods. The results imply the need of policy development to address such access issues so that technological advancements can benefit communities across an urban area.

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