City-wide Solar Photovoltaic Potential

2012 - 2013

J. Alstan Jakubiec and Christoph F. Reinhart
Project work done while at the MIT Sustainable Design Lab.

A new technique was developed to transform quasi-standard GIS databases — LiDAR pointclouds, building shapefiles and metadata — into a reliable predictor of photovoltaic rooftop potential. The technique predicts hourly incident rooftop irradiation accounting for typical weather and surrounding urban geometry and calculates photovoltaic yield based on efficiency factors including urban rooftop temperatures.

A proof of concept solar map was made for Cambridge, MA, and the technique was validated against measured data from two photovoltaic panel installations at MIT and a residential home. Modern Development Studio developed the initial web interface, and later a spinoff company named Mapdwell was created to market the technology. This page documents the general steps used in creating the Cambridge solar map.

Jakubiec, J. A, & Reinhart, C. F. (2014). U.S. Patent Application 14/160,658.

Jakubiec, J. A., & Reinhart, C. F. (2013). A method for predicting city-wide electricity gains from photovoltaic panels based on LiDAR and GIS data combined with hourly Daysim simulations. Solar Energy, 93, 127-143.

Jakubiec, J. A., & Reinhart, C. F. (2012). Towards validated urban photovoltaic potential and solar radiation maps based on lidar measurements, GIS data, and hourly daysim simulations. Proceedings of SimBuild, Madison, Wisconsin, 1-10.