NY TIMES – GREEN, 6/7/11
Is this what’s next? We have Hagstrom, Mapquest, Google Maps, Google Earth and now a Solar Map? Most excellent!
Spurred by financial incentives from a Department of Energy program that helps speed their embrace of solar technologies, cities like San Francisco and Boston offer residents online tools that enable them to look up their addresses and determine their buildings’ potential for harnessing solar power.
Now New York City, where it is estimated that solar arrays could generate about one-fifth of the electricity consumed by eight million residents, has climbed on the bandwagon. As I wrote in The Times on Monday, an airplane equipped with a laser system known as Lidar, for Light Detection and Ranging, took images of the city’s surface terrain and structures last month. The goal is to collect data that can be used to, among other things, update flood maps and develop a solar map by this fall.
Tria Case, director of sustainability for the City University of New York, which has teamed with the city to develop the solar map, said the images offered highly precise information about the shape, angle and size of rooftops and the shading from trees and structures around them.
That in turn can help planners figure out how much solar energy can be produced on each roof and help Con Edison and other utilities draft energy policies and improve forecasting.
The data, Ms. Case said, would not only tell the city how much solar power is possible on roofs, but also figure out how much is currently being produced in New York.