A solar map is an internet-based tool that helps educate and inform users about solar technology by estimating the solar energy potential of building sites or open land and providing information about associated benefits. The purpose of a solar map is to promote greater public awareness about solar energy, enable consumers to discover the solar potential of their own properties, and facilitate increased solar usage among property owners.
A solar map can serve as a single place to store complete information on solar resources. Like the concept of a "onestop shop" for permitting, solar map portals can store all federal, state, and local information regarding available solar incentives and programs. Solar maps are user-friendly, allowing users to make quick and easy assessments of the solar potential of their properties. When given minimal information such as a street address, the map can instantaneously generate data about potential costs, potential cost savings through incentives and rebates, and energy usage for that property. Additionally, solar maps are interactive. They can include tools to draw potential PV-system layouts or estimate shading from nearby structures or vegetation, providing a level of detail that allows users to assess an open space on a specific property or rooftop and take into account any obstructions that reduce usable area for panel placement. Finally, solar maps generate quantifiable outputs that can inform decisions made by government officials and the general public.
About the Author
Erin Musiol, AICP
Erin currently leads the Long Range Planning Division at the City of Rock Hill, South Carolina. Prior to joining Rock Hill, Erin was a Senior Research Associate with the American Planning Association in Washington DC and a Research Analyst with Kimley-Horn out of their Charlotte office.