A new interactive tool has just been created that puts into perspective the potential for solar power generation for the entire New York City area. The scale of the project is impressive, as is the information that it yields. The NYC Solar Map, which was announced at the 5th annual NYC Solar Summit, is described by its creators as “an interactive online tool that allows users to estimate the solar energy potential for every building in New York City’s five boroughs by inputting an address.”
To create the map, developers combined information that was gathered from aerial lasers known as ‘Light Image Detection and Ranging’ (LiDAR), with some highly advanced mapping technology. The result is a map that, according to Professor Sean Ahearn, the Director of the Center for Analysis and Research of Spatial Information (C.A.R.S.I.) , “analyzes the solar potential for every square meter of each of NYC’s one million buildings.”
C.A.R.S.I. then used the information to calculate the total usable roof area for solar PV installations for the city, which turns out to be about 615 million ft2.” Ahearn clarifies, “This represents a solar potential of 5,800 MW at peak output or over 40 percent of the City’s electrical demand at peak.”
The map, which is hosted by CUNY at nycsolarmap.com, also shows existing solar installations, displays real-time solar energy production in the area, and exposes the costs, incentives, and payback period involved in a solar installation for any given building in NYC .
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) supported NYC Solar America City Partnership is comprised of The City University of New York, the Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability and the NYC Economic Development Corporation. The map’s development was reportedly led by Sustainable CUNY and built by C.A.R.S.I. with help from Con Edison, the High Performance Computing Center at CUNY’s College of Staten Island and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).