Geospatial Optimization of Siting Large-Scale Solar Projects

Jordan Macknick, Emmet Caulfield, Margot Gerritsen, James Diffendorfer, Seth Haines

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Recent policy and economic conditions have encouraged a renewed interest in developing large-scale solar projects in the U.S. Southwest. However, siting large-scale solar projects is complex. In addition to the quality of the solar resource, solar developers must take into consideration many environmental, social, and economic factors when evaluating a potential site. This report describes aproof-of-concept, Web-based Geographical Information Systems (GIS) tool that evaluates multiple user-defined criteria in an optimization algorithm to inform discussions and decisions regarding the locations of utility-scale solar projects. Existing siting recommendations for large-scale solar projects from governmental and non-governmental organizations are not consistent with each other, areoften not transparent in methods, and do not take into consideration the differing priorities of stakeholders. The siting assistance GIS tool we have developed improves upon the existing siting guidelines by being user-driven, transparent, interactive, capable of incorporating multiple criteria, and flexible. This work provides the foundation for a dynamic siting assistance tool that can greatlyfacilitate siting decisions among multiple stakeholders.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages26
StatePublished - 2014

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A50-61375


  • concentrating solar power (CSP)
  • CSP
  • GIS
  • optimization
  • PV
  • solar


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