Critigen was involved in a detailed spatial analysis project for the City of Denver regarding zoning for solar energy. The city is working on a new zoning code, and was interested in what way they should mandate solar easements and solar rights to protect a homeowners access to solar power. The city was concerned about taking the right zoning approach in order to ensure that each home has equitable access to at least 500 s.f. unobstructed space for solar.
The idea was to look closely at how much sun is needed on a rooftop to generate and offset energy costs by 75%. The analysis involved annual solar access, the hours of solar in the winter, and the solar impact from neighboring homes. Between a few different solar zoning options, Critigen was able to prove scientifically the benefits of different approaches.
During the presentation, a new solar mapping site for the city of Madison, Wisconsin was demoed, called MadiSun. This new site lets you draw a solar footprint on a roof and to automatically generate details on the amount of energy the panels will generate through every month of the year, the amount of rebates that are available, and then the total costs.
Solar mapping efforts are reaching whole new levels of sophistication, including the automatic generation of 3D models from LiDAR data. The level of details available on the energy calculation side are also being fine tuned with free tools available from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.