PA Solar Energy Potential
Client: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Challenge:
Pennsylvania is ranked 3rd in the country in terms of electricity generation and 4th in carbon dioxide emission in the country. Total electric sales have grown 1.8% per year so far this decade, and the Public Utilities Commission projects that sales will continue to grow at this rate for the next few years.
In 2008, The Commonwealth retained a group of companies to assess the potential for investments in energy efficiency and solar energy to reduce the impact of future energy price increases. In addition, the Commonwealth wished to assess other potentially beneficial impacts on the state’s economy including the creation of “green” jobs at the State and regional level.
Over the summer of 2008, VEIC began working with a team of experts to prepare an assessment of the energy resource potential for electricity and fossil fuel efficiency and solar energy installations in Pennsylvania (over the 2009-2025 time period). The VEIC team principally focused on assessing the impact of onsite solar for hot-water, space heating, and other domestic uses. Similarly, we were asked to project the energy savings that could be realized from public policies to encourage installation of onsite solar. The results of this assessment were be incorporated into a comprehensive energy efficiency analysis and macroeconomic impacts assessment.
Using data from the Energy Information Agency (EIA), including residential and commercial electric customer data from the Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) and the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS), VEIC compiled an approximation of appropriate roof top and south facing vertical wall area in the commercial and residential markets using NREL protocol. The available area was then apportioned by technology according to market characteristics and suitability of the technologies.
The study concluded that there is technical potential to install 27519 Mega Watts (MW) of photovoltaic solar electric generation, with an estimated 28,922 Giga Watt-hours (GWh) annual production on Pennsylvania rooftops. The study also concluded that a market potential to install 680 MW (over the 2009-2025 time horizon). The achievement of these goals would require substantial market support, spurred by a statewide Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard mandating the procurement of alternative energy resources, including solar. Other market concerns such as quality assurance, consumer education, and solar industry infrastructure development and support would also need to be addressed.