News Analysis

California Could Go Solar Without Destroying Habitat

If PV were installed only in developed locations throughout California, the state could meets its energy needs three to five times over.

It’s no secret that sun-drenched California has solar potential. Large-scale developers have looked at installing photovoltaics (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) in deserts. This adds transmission costs in getting power to cities and also puts native and protected habitats at risk. Stanford-affiliated researchers have an alternative: they contend that the existing built environment can support three to five times as much PV and CSP as California needs to meet its current energy demand.

Their study, Efficient use of land to meet sustainable energy needs, published recently in Nature Climate Change, models solar potential on developed land using satellite radiation maps, hydrologic, socioeconomic, topographical, infrastructural, and ecological data.

Published April 17, 2015