Analysis of land availability for utility-scale power plants and assessment of solar photovoltaic development in the state of Arizona, USA

Debaleena Majumdar, Martin Pasqualetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Solar photovoltaic (PV) can help meet the growing demand for clean electricity in Arizona. This paper answers where solar PV development has taken place in Arizona, how much suitable land is available for utility-scale PV development, and how future land cover changes can affect the availability of this suitable land. PV development suitability scores are calculated for the land across Arizona based on topography, location, solar resource and public opinion factors. Ground truthing is used to identify the scenario which best explains Arizona's PV power plant developments from several decision-making scenarios. Less than two percent of Arizona's land is considered Excellent for PV development. Most of this land is private land or owned by state trust. If the available suitable land is fully developed with solar PV, Arizona has the potential to become a regional energy hub. However, in the next few decades suitable areas for solar PV generation can get rapidly depleted due to conflict with growing urban areas. If the suitable land for PV generation is not set-aside, Arizona would then have to depend on less suitable lands, look for multi-purpose land use options and distributed PV deployments to meet its future energy need.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1213-1231
Number of pages19
JournalRenewable Energy
Volume134
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019

Fingerprint

Land use
Topography
Power plants
Electricity
Decision making
Availability

Keywords

  • Arizona
  • GIS
  • Multi-Criteria Analysis (MCA)
  • Public opinion
  • Site suitability analysis
  • Solar PV

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment

Cite this

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abstract = "Solar photovoltaic (PV) can help meet the growing demand for clean electricity in Arizona. This paper answers where solar PV development has taken place in Arizona, how much suitable land is available for utility-scale PV development, and how future land cover changes can affect the availability of this suitable land. PV development suitability scores are calculated for the land across Arizona based on topography, location, solar resource and public opinion factors. Ground truthing is used to identify the scenario which best explains Arizona's PV power plant developments from several decision-making scenarios. Less than two percent of Arizona's land is considered Excellent for PV development. Most of this land is private land or owned by state trust. If the available suitable land is fully developed with solar PV, Arizona has the potential to become a regional energy hub. However, in the next few decades suitable areas for solar PV generation can get rapidly depleted due to conflict with growing urban areas. If the suitable land for PV generation is not set-aside, Arizona would then have to depend on less suitable lands, look for multi-purpose land use options and distributed PV deployments to meet its future energy need.",
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