Land-Use Requirements for Solar Power Plants in the United States

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


This report provides data and analysis of the land use associated with utility-scale ground-mounted solar facilities, defined as installations greater than 1 MW. We begin by discussing standard land-use metrics as established in the life-cycle assessment literature and then discuss their applicability to solar power plants. We present total and direct land-use results for various solartechnologies and system configurations, on both a capacity and an electricity-generation basis. The total area corresponds to all land enclosed by the site boundary. The direct area comprises land directly occupied by solar arrays, access roads, substations, service buildings, and other infrastructure. As of the third quarter of 2012, the solar projects we analyze represent 72% of installed andunder-construction utility-scale PV and CSP capacity in the United States.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages47
StatePublished - 2013

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A20-56290


  • ground-mounted solar
  • land use for solar
  • solar power plants
  • utility-scale solar facilities


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