Geospatial optimization of siting large-scale solar projects

Technical Report NREL/TP-6A50-61375
The Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis is operated by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC, on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the University of Colorado-Boulder, the Colorado School of Mines, the Colorado State University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Stanford University.
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Recent policy and economic conditions have encouraged a renewed interest in developing large-scale solar projects in the U.S. Southwest. However, siting some large-scale solar projects, such as concentrating solar power (CSP), is complex. In addition to the quality of the solar resource, solar developers must take into consideration many environmental, social, and economic factors when evaluating a potential site. This report describes a proof-of-concept, Web-based Geographical Information Systems (GIS) tool that evaluates multiple user-defined criteria in an optimization algorithm to inform discussions and decisions regarding the locations of utility- scale solar projects. Existing siting recommendations for large-scale solar projects from governmental and non-governmental organizations are not consistent with each other, are often not transparent in methods, and do not take into consideration the differing priorities of stakeholders. The siting assistance GIS tool we have developed improves upon the existing siting guidelines by being user-driven, transparent, interactive, capable of incorporating multiple criteria, and flexible. This work provides the foundation for a dynamic siting assistance tool that can greatly facilitate siting decisions among multiple stakeholders.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Federal Government Series
Title Geospatial optimization of siting large-scale solar projects
Series title Technical Report
Series number NREL/TP-6A50-61375
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis
Publisher location Golden, CO
Contributing office(s) Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center
Description v, 20 p.
Country United States
State Arizona;California;Colorado;Idaho;Montana;Nevada;New Mexico;Oregon;Utah;Washington;Wyoming
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