Forget Desert Solar Farms: We Can Get More Than Enough Solar Energy From Cities

There’s plenty of sunshine for solar panels right here where we need it.

Forget Desert Solar Farms: We Can Get More Than Enough Solar Energy From Cities,

Adele Peters, Fast Company, 8 May 2015, Using California’s rooftops, parking lots, and other developed land, the state could power itself up to five times over….

“I questioned whether we have a constraint on land,” says researcher Rebecca Hernandez. “It was striking to me that there seemed to be sort of this mismatch of available places to put solar. I wanted to really understand how much land do we have, how much land is available, all these land dynamics that really were not quantified before, and sort of paint a better picture.”…

By building in and near cities, we could also add new solar power more quickly, because remote plants require new transmission lines. “We have to build out infrastructure to catch up to these places,” Hernandez says. “Really, our solar energy installations are now dictating the infrastructure of our grid, which is sort of backwards.”

So we can instead put solar panels on rooftops and spare acreage (parking lots, airports, industrial parks, etc.) right where the power is needed.

The study: Efficient use of land to meet sustainable energy needs, by Rebecca R. Hernandez, Madison K. Hoffacker, and Christopher B. Field, Nature Climate Change 5, 353–358 (2015) doi:10.1038/nclimate2556. Received 03 September 2014 Accepted 30 January 2015 Published online 16 March 2015