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3D map shines light on New York solar potential

Wednesday, July 06, 2011 - 02:12

July 6 - A new, three-dimensional map with a bird's eye view of New York City is showing residents the solar energy potential of their city, the largest in the United States. The map's creators have set out to demonstrate that solar power is more than just an abstract idea. Tara Cleary reports.

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New York City, home to more than eight million people and hundreds of thousands of buildings. That's a lot of rooftops and a lot of potential for solar power. But Sean Ahearn, Professor of Geography at Hunter College says it's not so easy to estimate solar capacity. SOUNDBITE: SEAN AHEARN, HUNTER COLLEGE PROFESSOR OF GEOGRAPHY, SAYING (English): "Everybody says 'Boy if we only did solar, it would be so helpful.' But what this application has done is it's turned something that is very abstract into something that people can get their arms around. They can actually now figure out how much money they would save." The application is a 3D map of New York with which residents can gauge their building's solar options. SOUNDBITE: SEAN AHEARN, HUNTER COLLEGE PROFESSOR OF GEOGRAPHY, SAYING (English): "What does that mean? It means they are actually able to figure out how much it would cost to put a solar unit on the roof, what would be the return on investment, how many years before they paid for it, and how much they would save on their utility bill each month." Ahearn created the 3D solar map using Light Detection and Ranging technology. Mapping with this system provides an accuracy of plus or minus 7.5 centimeters. New Yorkers can type their address into nycsolarmap.com and see a detailed satellite map of their building and rooftop and determine how much usable space there is for solar panels. Tria Case of the City University says its an idea whose time has come. SOUNDBITE: TRIA CASE, UNIVERSITY DIRECTOR OF SUSTAINABILITY FOR THE CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK, SAYING (English) : "The potential is now known by everybody. By using the map, we can understand that there are 615 million square feet of space in New York City where we could place solar on our roofs." Sean Ahearn believes solar power users could see a return on their investment in about five years with a typical single family home saving up to $1,500 annually. And if every eligible New Yorker takes advantage of solar power, he says the city could use it to generate more than 40 percent of its peak demand while reducing emissions and creating green jobs at the same time. Tara Cleary, Reuters.

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3D map shines light on New York solar potential

Wednesday, July 06, 2011 - 02:12