U.S. Department of Energy

    The Bright Lights in New York Could Be Solar

    September 12, 2012

    The big city glow of New York could be coming from more than the bright lights on Broadway. The Big Apple also is increasingly aglow with solar power, particularly from rooftop photovoltaic (PV) solar.

    Earlier this year, the city unveiled the New York City Solar Map, a collaborative tool which gives an estimate of solar photovoltaic potential for the one million buildings in the five city boroughs. The interactive map, hosted by The City University of New York (CUNY), is based on information from flights over the city by an airplane equipped with an aerial laser system. The device, known as Lidar for "light image detection and ranging," gathered information on the shape, angle, size, and shade of rooftops along with the surface elevations of ground, buildings, and trees. Analysis of the data showed that the city has a solar potential of 5,800 megawatts peak output—more that 40% of the city's electrical demand at peak times if all the rooftops were fully outfitted with solar. About two-thirds of the city's structures are suitable to house solar panels.

    CUNY's work on the NYC Solar Map was funded through the Energy Department in 2007 and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. For the complete story, see the Energy Blog.