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A pixel-based approach to estimation of solar energy potential on building roofs
journal contributionposted on 2016-10-01, 00:00 authored by George LiGeorge Li, D Ding, Chunlu LiuChunlu Liu, C Wang
Precise estimation of solar energy on building roofs plays a critical role in sustainable development and renewable energy consumption of high-density human habitats. Conventional solar radiation models based on costly Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data are only adequate for existing buildings, not for future construction areas. In this paper, a pixel-based methodology is constructed for estimating solar energy potential over roofs. Buildings with flat roofs in a newly planned construction area are chosen as a case study. The solar radiation at a certain cell is mathematically formulated in the pixel unit, and its yields over a certain time period are calculated by considering multiple instantaneous solar irradiances and are visually presented by image processing. Significant spatial and temporal variations in solar radiation are measured. Within the study area, the maximum and minimum annual radiation yields are estimated at 4717.72 MJ/m2/year and 342.58 MJ/m2/year respectively. Radiation contour lines are then mapped for outlining installation ranges of various solar devices. For each apartment building, around 20% of roof areas can obtain 4500 MJ/m2/year or more solar radiation yields. This study will benefit energy investors and urban planners in accurately predicting solar radiation potential and identifying regions with high radiation over building roofs. The results can be utilised in government policies and urban planning to raise awareness of the use of renewable energy sources.