A GIS based modeling approach for calculating the electricity generation potential of building integrated photovoltaics at the town scale: A case study of Amherst, New York
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This thesis investigates the electricity generation potential of widespread implementation of building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) onto the roof space of buildings in Amherst, New York. The modeling of electricity generation is achieved using a multistep process that uses a digital surface model generated from LiDAR data as the input dataset for the ESRI ArcGIS Solar Analyst tool "Area Solar Radiation" to output a raster containing data on the incident insolation for each month and the entire year. Insolation data is combined with building footprint data to calculate the potential generation of each building in the study area. This output is evaluated under several scenarios and the results are evaluated in terms of electricity demand met, and greenhouse gas emissions offset. The insolation results are verified by comparison to National Renewable Energy Lab insolation data; generation results are verified with data collected from a roof mounted PV system within the study area. The model appears most accurate in cooler months with negligible snowfall. Findings suggest building integrated photovoltaics can be a strong contributor to a carbon free energy mix. The most optimistic predictions show approximately 70% of Amherst's local electricity can be supplied by building integrated photovoltaics. Even when predicted electricity generation is adjusted downward to reflect the findings of the case study, a scenario using a feed-in tariff of 40 cents per kWh still finds enough BIPV installations would be economically feasible to generate 31% of the yearly electricity demand of Amherst, New York. This suggests feed-in tariffs should be used by governments desiring increased renewable energy production.