NYC Solar Map Launches at the NYC Solar Summit

June 20, 2011 | The University

The NYC Solar America City Partnership, comprised of The City University of New York, the Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability and the NYC Economic Development Corporation, launched the world’s largest LiDAR-based solar map this morning at the 5th annual NYC Solar Summit. The NYC Solar Map is an interactive online tool that allows users to estimate the solar energy potential for every building in New York City’s five boroughs by inputting an address. The map is hosted by CUNY at nycsolarmap.com and also highlights existing solar installations, displays real-time solar energy production, and shows the user the costs, incentives, and payback period for investing in solar.

“The NYC Solar America City Partnership, a U.S. Department of Energy supported program, is a prime example of how CUNY can utilize its resources to facilitate the change to cleaner energy and streamline the path to the marketplace for solar and other clean technologies,” said Chancellor Matthew Goldstein. “CUNY faculty developed new technology for New York City, a clean energy tool available to the public that can result in reducing the strain on the NYC electrical grid during peak hours while creating green jobs.”

“The release of the solar map is another example of New York City’s commitment to supporting the development of solar energy as part of PlaNYC,” said Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith. “By putting valuable data and analysis at the public’s fingertips, the solar map will allow New Yorkers to better understand the potential impact that pursuing solar energy can have on the power grid.”

The map was developed as a collaborative effort led by Sustainable CUNY and was built by the Center for Analysis and Research of Spatial Information (C.A.R.S.I.) at CUNY’s Hunter College with extensive assistance from Con Edison and the High Performance Computing Center at CUNY’s College of Staten Island and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.  C.A.R.S.I. combined data that was gathered from aerial lasers known as ‘Light Image Detection and Ranging’ (LiDAR), with sophisticated mapping technology.  “The map analyzes the solar potential for every square meter of each of NYC’s one million buildings. From this analysis we  calculated the total usable roof area for solar PV installations for the City to be approximately 615 million ft2 ,” said Professor Sean Ahearn, the Director of the C.A.R.S.I. Center. “This represents a solar potential of 5,800 MW at peak output or over 40 percent of the City’s electrical demand at peak times.”

“This map serves as a key foundation towards building a new infrastructure, a clean energy infrastructure, for New York City and can be utilized as a platform for the development and placement of clean technologies in New York City,” said Tria Case, who heads the NYC Solar Map project as the University Director of Sustainability. “Initially utilized for solar technology, this map will enable NYC to transition to clean energy by allowing online users to access the data, analytics, drawing tools and even the financial information that can assist them in planning where to strategically place clean technology.”

“New York City has become a worldwide leader in energy-efficient building, and one of the reasons is a strong partnership among public and private organizations that brings us all here today,” said Buildings Commissioner LiMandri. “From developing educational resources about the solar potential of our buildings to offering tax incentives that help defray the cost of installations, this City is on the frontlines of green technology in order to improve the quality of life for millions of New Yorkers. The Department of Buildings plays a pivotal role in that effort, and we are continuously working to streamline approvals and put policies in place to help property owners make changes to their buildings that will make New York a greener, greater City.”

Con Edison and NYSERDA were major sponsors of the fifth annual NYC Solar Summit. The Summit presented an update on the NYC Solar America City progress and detailed the roll out of the NYC Solar Empowerment Zones and the NYC Solar Map; part of the platform that establishes solar as a smart energy choice in New York City. Panel discussions featured a ‘Solar Strategy’ debate on financing solar in the future, ‘Clean Tech and Solar’, and ‘Analytics Matters’, a panel on utilizing data to impact NYC energy choices and inform urban communities across the country. The day also featured a morning and afternoon ‘Conversation With…’ NYC leaders including Richard Kessel, President of the New York Power Authority and Maria Gotsch, President & CEO of the New York City Investment Fund.

Speakers at the press conference included Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith, CUNY Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer Allan Dobrin, New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth Pinsky, U.S. Department of Energy Market Transformation Lead for Solar Jennifer DeCesaro, NYC Department of Building Commissioner Robert LiMandri, Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability Director David Bragdon,  Con Edison Vice President of Manhattan Operations John Mucci, NYSERDA VP for Technology and Strategic Planning Janet Joseph, CUNY University Director of Sustainability Tria Case, and Hunter College C.A.R.S.I Director Sean Ahearn.

The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in New York City in 1847 as The Free Academy, the University has 23 institutions: 11 senior colleges, six community colleges, the William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, the Graduate School and University Center, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the CUNY School of Law, the CUNY School of Professional Studies and the CUNY School of Public Health. The University serves 260,000 academic credit students and 269,808 adult, continuing and professional education students. College Now, the University’s academic enrichment program for 32,500 high school students, is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 300 high schools throughout the five boroughs of New York City. The University offers online baccalaureate degrees through the School of Professional Studies and an individualized baccalaureate through the CUNY Baccalaureate Degree. More than 1 million visitors and 2 million page views are served each month by www.cuny.edu, the University’s website.