Assessing Land Availability for Utility Solar in North Carolina Using GIS

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2017-04-28

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Abstract

The use of utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) systems to generate electricity has been increasing substantially in the U.S., and North Carolina is a leading state in its installation. Optimally siting utility PV projects can maximize power generation and reduce projects’ costs, environmental impacts, and social opposition. Our analysis develops a GIS method to optimize siting these projects and assess how suitability factors affect land availability over large areas. We first identify criteria important for siting utility PV projects, such as land-cover, slope, and proximity to electrical substations. We then assess how the stepwise addition of these criteria, from most to least stringent, reduces the availability of suitable land across North Carolina. As the use of utility solar grows in North Carolina, our analysis provides a relevant assessment of siting constraints, identifies prime locations, and quantifies the state’s theoretical potential for this power source.

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Brawner, Eric, Yifu Wang, Janesha Hassaram and Hoel Wiesner (2017). Assessing Land Availability for Utility Solar in North Carolina Using GIS. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/14180.


Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.