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Copyright 2008-10,
CaliforniaPHOTON.com
V 1.06
site last updated: 6/26/2010

C a l i f o r n i a   P H O T O N

Industrial Rooftop Space: Survey of Rooftop Area in San Bernadino

Satellite image. Click for full-sized image.

The Los Angeles basin holds California's largest urban area. The graphic below illustrates a survey of rooftop space in one portion of the Los Angeles Basin in the vicinity of the Ontario International Airport in San Bernadino. The graphic, based on a satellite image from Google maps (left) covers an area of approximately 416 square kilometers. The orange regions indicate large rooftop spaces. These regions constitute about 13 percent of the total area shown, or about 54 square kilometers.

How much energy could be generated by completely covering this area with solar panels? It depends on the efficiency of the panels. Consider the peak power that could be generated by covering this area of 54 million square meters with each of three different types of solar panels, assuming a peak solar flux of 1000 watts per square meter.

panel type peak efficiency peak power
percent gigawatts
thin film CIGS 12 6.48
monocrystalline silicon 20 10.80
HCPV 36 19.44

Even the estimate using the least-efficient solar panels is twenty times as great as the peak power of the world's largest operational solar facility -- the SEGS (Solar Electricity Generating Systems) in the Mojave Desert.