Regional Per Capita Solar Electric Footprint for the United States

    Research output: NRELTechnical Report


    In this report, we quantify the state-by-state per-capita 'solar electric footprint' for the United States. We use state-level data on population, electricity consumption, economic activity and solar insolation, along with solar photovoltaic (PV) array packing density data to develop a range of estimates of the solar electric footprint. We find that the solar electric footprint, defined as theland area required to supply all end-use electricity from solar photovoltaics, is about 181 m2 per person in the United States. Two key factors that influence the magnitude of the state-level solar electric footprint include how industrial energy is allocated (based on location of use vs. where goods are consumed) and the assumed distribution of PV configurations (flat rooftop vs. fixed tilt vs.tracking). The solar electric footprint is about 0.6% of the total land area of the United States with state-level estimates ranging from less than 0.1% for Wyoming to about 9% for New Jersey. We also compare the solar electric footprint to a number of other land uses. For example, we find that the solar electric footprint is equal to less than 2% of the land dedicated to cropland and grazing inthe United States.
    Original languageAmerican English
    Number of pages34
    StatePublished - 2007

    NREL Publication Number

    • NREL/TP-670-42463


    • energy density
    • energy savings
    • greenhouse gas emissions (GHG)
    • land use
    • NREL
    • PV
    • solar
    • solar electric footprint
    • solar photovoltaics (PV)
    • state electricity use


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