Impacts of Array Configuration on Land-Use Requirements for Large-Scale Photovoltaic Deployment in the United States: Preprint
Description: Land use is often cited as an important issue for renewable energy technologies. In this paper we examine the relationship between land-use requirements for large-scale photovoltaic (PV) deployment in the U.S. and PV-array configuration. We estimate the per capita land requirements for solar PV and find that array configuration is a stronger driver of energy density than regional variations in solar insolation. When deployed horizontally, the PV land area needed to meet 100% of an average U.S. citizen's electricity demand is about 100 m2. This requirement roughly doubles to about 200 m2 when using 1-axis tracking arrays. By comparing these total land-use requirements with other current per capita land uses, we find that land-use requirements of solar photovoltaics are modest, especially when considering the availability of zero impact 'land' on rooftops. Additional work is need to examine the tradeoffs between array spacing, self-shading losses, and land use, along with possible techniques to mitigate land-use impacts of large-scale PV deployment.
Date: May 1, 2008
Creator: Denholm, P. & Margolis, R. M.
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