Solar Potential On Public Buildings In Kansas City, Minneapolis & New York City

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How much solar is installed on municipal buildings? How much could be installed?

As we discovered in writing ILSR’s Public Rooftop Revolution report—the latest in the Rooftop Revolution series—nobody had the answer, for almost every city we contacted.

But in the course of the research, three cities answered our call to analyze their rooftop solar potential specifically for public property. Kansas City (MO), Minneapolis, and New York City all responded to our call for data, read on below and see our maps as well.

The maps are based on a citywide survey of solar suitability on buildings and it includes city-owned and school district-owned buildings. Of the 250 buildings analyzed, 185 were identified that were suitable for solar (136 city-owned, 49 belonging to the school district).  According to the city’s building dataset, “this analysis included roof size, pitch and shading. No analysis was done of the structural capacity or limitations of buildings, which may impact solar suitability in some cases.” Furthermore, no analysis was provided for on-site energy consumption, which can be a limiting factor for solar installations under net metering rules.

Kansas City, Missouri

Our first map is for the city of Kansas City, MO, where an analysis by the regional government agency—Mid-America Regional Council—suggests the city could put 70 megawatts on public building roofs across town.

All told, we estimated that 5,000 megawatts of solar could be installed relatively quickly on the public buildings of 201 cities (of 100,000 people or more) in the states where cities can contract to buy electricity directly from a non-utility company.

Kansas City Solar Potential Map

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Our second map is for the city of Minneapolis, MN, where analysis by Tom Anderson, a Masters student at the University of Minnesota, suggests the city could put 18 megawatts on public building roofs across town.

All told, we estimated that 5,000 megawatts of solar could be installed relatively quickly on the public buildings of 201 cities (of 100,000 people or more) in the states where cities can contract to buy electricity directly from a non-utility company.

Minneapolis Solar Potential Map

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New York City, New York

Our third map is drawn from New York City’s public solar potential map showing all buildings in the city. Public buildings can’t be picked out with the software interface, but in conversations with city and City University of New York officials in 2015, ILSR found that public buildings in New York could host approximately 411 megawatts of solar power.

NYC Solar Potential Map - Final

This article originally posted at ilsr.org. For timely updates, follow John Farrell on Twitter or get the Democratic Energy weekly update.


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John Farrell

John directs the Democratic Energy program at ILSR and he focuses on energy policy developments that best expand the benefits of local ownership and dispersed generation of renewable energy. His seminal paper, Democratizing the Electricity System, describes how to blast the roadblocks to distributed renewable energy generation, and how such small-scale renewable energy projects are the key to the biggest strides in renewable energy development.   Farrell also authored the landmark report Energy Self-Reliant States, which serves as the definitive energy atlas for the United States, detailing the state-by-state renewable electricity generation potential. Farrell regularly provides discussion and analysis of distributed renewable energy policy on his blog, Energy Self-Reliant States (energyselfreliantstates.org), and articles are regularly syndicated on Grist and Renewable Energy World.   John Farrell can also be found on Twitter @johnffarrell, or at jfarrell@ilsr.org.

John Farrell has 518 posts and counting. See all posts by John Farrell