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One Shields Avenue
Davis CA
95616-8627

Solar Energy Potential on Largest Rooftops in US

Solar energy potential on the largest rooftops in the United States

DO WE HAVE TO LOSE ACRES OF NATURAL HABITAT FOR SOLAR ENERGY?

THE ANSWER IS SIMPLE. NO.

ONE OF THE MOST OVERLOOKED OPPORTUNITIES FOR UTILITY-SCALE SOLAR ENERGY IS RIGHT ABOVE US: 

ROOFTOPS.

But not just any rooftops. We are looking at BIG ROOFTOPS.

Actually, the largest in the United States.

BUT WE NEED YOUR HELP.

Partner with us by ADOPTING A ROOFTOP.

Your adoption will enable us to:

1. Run a complete solar energy technical potential and modeling analysis on your adopted building (one of 25) using Aurora, the most technically advanced solar energy modeling platform on Earth,

2. Train UC Davis students, who run each analysis, to develop critical modeling skills that help them understand how solar energy systems work and provide the real work experiences they need to be competitive on the job market when they graduate,

3. Communicate our findings with your adopted building owners to show them exactly how much energy they can produce and how much natural habitat they will save by developing solar on their rooftop instead of in or near our national and state parks and open spaces. 

 

Adopt a BIG ROOFTOP NOW. 

Donation button -- coming soon! 

 

What do we do with your donation?

  • It costs $2,500 to publish our study in a journal that the decision makers will see. We use your donation to cover this fee. 
  • It costs $3,000 to hire one undergraduate intern per quarter. We use your donation to provide job experiences for UC Davis undergraduates who need to supplement their income. We use your donation to hire four interns every quarter for one year. 
  • It costs $600 to hire a graphic designer to produce high-quality images that will help make the results of our study more impactful and intelligible to non-scientists. We will use your donation to cover this expense. 

Background | Impacts to land owing to renewable energy development often result in land degradation. The nature of such impacts depend on the duration, intensity, and reversibility of the disturbance (Dale et al 2011). The potential to overcome these impacts often involve changes in land use practices and mitigation; however, such impacts can be obviated entirely when PV systems are sited on rooftops in lieu of natural systems. Commercial buildings often have large, flat, and unobstructed (e.g., trees) rooftop space. Within the US, these types of structures have been increasing in area 22% since 2003 (CBECS 2012). Specifically, US commercial buildings, which include warehouses and distribution centers, constructed between 1960 to 1999 have an average floorspace of 1,514 m2 (16,300 sq. feet) while those assembled after 2000 have a floorspace of 1,774 m2 (19,100 sq. feet) on average (CBECS 2012).

Who | This study is entirely led by two of the brightest and most determined environmental undergraduate students at UC Davis, Esther Robles and Patty Boonlue, in collaboration with Aurora Solar and the Institute for Transportation Studies (ITS) at UC Davis, who funded two ITS Summer Fellows in 2016: Esther Robles and Patty Boonlue.

Will supporting this study really make a difference?

YES. We will share our findings in a scientific article published in a high-impact journal that is read by policy makers, solar energy stakeholders, and governmental agencies. 

YES. We will share our findings as a press release with local and national journalists. 

YES. We will write a letter to each company who owns the building. We will share our findings with them and encourage them to partner with us and our solar energy collaborators develop a feasible plan to develop their rooftop space to fight climate change, protect natural environments, and support electric transportation.  

Want to know the more of the scientific objectives of this study?

Objectives | In this study, we seek to:

(1) Quantify the potential of rooftop-mounted PV systems deployed on 25 of the largest buildings in the United States,

(2) Assess the utility of Aurora for modeling commercial rooftop area, quantifying solar resources therein, and evaluating optimal PV system design, performance, and functionality,

(3) Compare potential generation to electricity consumption and transportation-related energy needs (e.g., electric cars) for each building separately, and

(4) Quantify the amount of land-sparing under the counterfactual scenario that equivalent capacity is developed as ground-mounted, utility-scale PV power plants.