NREL report: 32 acres required for solar array to power 1,000 homes

By: InnovatioNews Thursday August 1, 2013 0 comments Tags: Golden, NREL, Paul Denholm, solar power

NREL logoGOLDEN - A report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) finds a photovoltaic plant capable of providing all the electricity for 1,000 homes would require 32 acres of land to accommodate the solar panels.

The land-use requirement report also found:

  • A large, fixed-tilt PV plant that generates 1 gigawatt-hour per year of solar energy requires - on average - 2.8 acres for the solar panels.

  • Small single-axis PV systems require on average 2.9 acres per annual gigwatt-hour, or 3.8 acres when considering all unused area that falls inside the project boundary.

  • Concentrating solar power plants require on average 2.7 acres for solar collectors and other equipment per annual gigawatt-hour and 3.5 acres for all land enclosed within the project boundary.

"The numbers aren't good news or bad news," said Paul Denholm, one of the authors of the report "Land-use Requirements for Solar Power Plants in the United States."

"It's just that there was not an understanding of actual land-use requirements before this work. However, we were happy to find out that many of the solar land-use ranges and estimates used in the literature are very close to actual solar land-use requirements that we found."

By the third quarter of 2012, the U.S. had deployed more than 2.1 gigawatts of utility-scale solar generation capacity, NREL said, with another 4.6 gigawatts under construction.

Data from the report came from land use numbers from actual solar power plants, NREL said.

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