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Airborne Laser Scan Shows New York Rooftops Could Generate 5,847 MW of Solar Power

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Special planes equipped with a special laser system called Lidar flew over New York last year and scanned all the potential rooftops out of more than one million on which solar panels could be installed to properly produce power, NYTimes reports.

All of the flights and the map, costing over $660,000 found out that the actual power that could be produced by installing rooftop solar panels throughout the city could broaden up to 5,847 megawatts, from the current 6.5 megawatts installed today at only about 400 locations.

The Lidar system works by sending out laser signals and, just like a microwave-based radar, measures the time it takes for the rays to come back. Its name stands for Light Detection And Ranging. “The quality of the Lidar information is so remarkable that it will much more rapidly unlock usable sites,” said Stephen Goldsmith, the deputy mayor for operations.

The total information is rather shocking: New York could cover 49 percent of its currently estimated daytime peak and around 14 percent of its total electricity use from January to December, which is not negligible at all. Greenhouse gas emissions would also be greatly reduced, from an environmental standpoint.

It is even more shocking to hear that nationwide, the total amount of energy from solar power only reaches 2,300 megawatts, less than half of what the rooftops of New York could theoretically output.

Bureaucracy and the lack of a streamlined process makes it hard for people to currently install such solar panels. The whole paperwork could last up to a year. That could eventually change in the future, says David Bragdon, director of the Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability, affirming the his office is already working on this. Con Edison, New York’s main electric utility, said they were working on a website that could help people reduce the waiting time.

[via goodcleantech/nytimes]

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