Environmental Studies Program

 

Date of this Version

Fall 12-2011

Abstract

In the context of rising energy concerns and increased spotlight on solar energy, this study examines and draws attention to the state of mid potential sunlight. The purpose of this study is to estimate the optimal sites for grid-connected photovoltaic cells in Nebraska, which is ranked 13th nationally in terms of insolation potential. Five factors – insolation potential, adjacency to roads, accessibility to grid, topography, and acreage – are examined with the use of Geographic Information System (GIS). Insolation potential was quantitatively analyzed by averaging, plotting, and interpolating the 20 years of datasets recoded at 28 weather stations of High Plains Regional Climate Center (HPRCC). The other four factors are qualitatively examined by the screening criteria adopted from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It has been shown that weather is an important factor that controls the insolation potential, and that optimal sites found in southwestern regions of Nebraska all correspond with agricultural land, which may create the conflict over land usage between agriculture and solar energy.