In the face of global climate change, increasing the use of renewable energy resources is one of the most urgent challenges facing the world. Further development of one resource, solar energy, is complicated by the need to find space for solar power-generating equipment without significantly altering the surrounding environment.
New work from Carnegie’s Rebecca R. Hernandez (now at University of California Berkley), Madison K. Hoffacker, and Chris Field found that the amount of energy that could be generated from solar equipment constructed on and around existing infrastructure in California would exceed the state’s demand by up to five times. It is published by Nature Climate Change.
“Integrating solar facilities into the urban and suburban environment causes the least amount of land-cover change and the lowest environmental impact,” Hernandez explained.
Just over 8 percent of all of the terrestrial surfaces in California have been developed by humans–from cities and buildings to park spaces. Residential and commercial rooftops present plenty of opportunity for power generation through small- and utility-scale solar power installations. Other compatible opportunities are available in open urban spaces such as parks.