Solar power has been growing in New York City, but the installed capacity pales in comparison to the city's potential. That's at least according to a new study, illustrated by the map above, that found two-thirds of the city's million-plus rooftops are suitable for solar panels—and collectively could meet half the city's energy demand during peak hours, and 14 percent of the city's total annual use. (And that's accounting for typical weather conditions.)The New York Times reports that city officials are using the study to push for more solar power to supply the city's needs and to reduce emissions.
The data for the map, a collaboration between the City University of New York, the city and the Department of Energy, shows 66.4 percent of the city's buildings have roof space that can accommodate solar panels. Even more impressive: that space could generate up to 5,847 megawatts of energy.
Right now, about 400 solar installations produce a mere 6.5 megawatts, and existing solar power installations nationwide produce little more, relatively speaking: 2,300 megawatts.
The Times explains how the data for the map was collected. Using a laser system called Lidar that detects light:
Swooping over the five boroughs last year, the plane collected precise information about the shape, angle and size of the city's rooftops and the shading provided from trees and structures around them.
New Yorkers can use the NYC Solar Map to view the solar power potential of their own roof, and the associated costs (as well as rebates and other financial incentives) just by typing in an address. They can also see how much CO2 emissions will be prevented by tapping into that solar power capacity.
More on solar power in NYC:
New York City Solar Power Installations More Than Doubled in 2010
NYC Metro + Hydrogen Powered Building = Capital of Hydrogen Revolution?
Easy To Install Solar Panels Are City Friendly and Affordable