Web-based Mapping Applications for Solar Energy Project Planning

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Conference Proceeding

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Determining economically viable locations for solar energy projects depends on many factors, including the level of the solar energy resource, land ownership and use, potential environmental impacts, and grid connectivity. This forum session will highlight public and freely accessible Web-based mapping applications sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to aid in analyzing solar energy project siting decisions. We will discuss each of the Web applications and their associated projects and then demonstrate the tools.

PVMapper (http://pvmapper.org) is an open-source geographic information system (GIS)-based Web application, currently under development, that will provide utility-scale solar developers with tools and data for site selection and screening of potential photovoltaic (PV) solar energy plants. The Eastern Interconnection States’ Planning Commission (EISPC) Energy Zones Mapping Tool (https://eispctools.anl.gov) facilitates planning for clean energy zones and provides an extensive library of energy resources and other siting factors as mapping layers, models to map the suitability for solar energy and other technologies, and region-specific reports. Solar Energy Environmental Mapper (http://solarmapper.anl.gov) concentrates on the southwestern United States and was developed to share information relevant to siting utility-scale solar projects in the six southwestern states included in the scope of the Solar Energy Development Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. Solar Prospector (http://maps.nrel.gov/prospector) is a mapping and analysis tool designed to provide access to relevant geospatial data to the solar industry in general and for the siting of utility-scale solar plants in particular. National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) PVWatts calculator (http://pvwatts.nrel.gov) determines the energy production and cost savings of grid-connected PV energy systems, allowing homeowners, small building owners, installers, manufacturers, and researchers to easily develop estimates of the performance of hypothetical PV installations.

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