Project Leads: Paul Sesink Clee – Lead GIS Analyst | CityGeo – Office of Innovation and Technology
Mardi Ditze – Senior Energy Analyst | Energy Office – Office of Sustainability
Did you know that you can use solar power to run everything natural gas, electricity, or oil currently fuels? It’s the cheaper, safer, and more eco-friendly solution!
The CityGeo team wants to help you explore whether your home or business has the potential to use solar energy. We’ve developed an exploration tool called SOLARrooftops to estimate a rooftop’s potential for harnessing solar power. SOLARrooftops estimates both potential electricity production as well as the area of a rooftop suitable for installing solar panels. The application also provides the next steps for pursuing the generation of solar electricity.
The importance of solar energy
Under Mayor Kenney, the City of Philadelphia developed a Clean Energy Vision roadmap highlighting current and anticipated trends in our energy system. The roadmap also identifies opportunities for all Philadelphians to contribute to the City’s goal by the year 2050: reducing carbon emissions by 80 percent from 2006 levels.
To reach this goal, solar energy must be generated at mass levels – the City’s target by 2050 is to have 80% of viable rooftops producing clean solar energy. To support this ambitious goal, the Office of Innovation and Technology’s CityGeo team collaborated with the Office of Sustainability’s Energy Office to create SOLARrooftops.
How we designed the application
To create SOLARrooftops, CityGeo linked high quality elevation data (Light Detection and Ranging, i.e. LiDAR data) with the sun’s daily path to calculate how much solar energy reaches rooftops over the course of a year. Factors limiting sun exposure, including adjacent tall buildings, tree canopies, and the shape of the roof itself, were accounted for while calculating a solar estimate. Rooftops unfavorable to solar energy production were removed from the application, leaving only areas where solar electricity production is practical.