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Land-Use Data for U.S. Solar Power Plants (Completed)

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National Renewable Energy Laboratories conducted research into solar land use requirements, but were unable to find a comprehensive evaluation from the literature. NREL created this report to analyze data related to land use in large solar arrays. The paragraph below explains the efficiency of land by type of solar project, and the link takes you directly to the report.


Generation-weighted averages for total area requirements range from about
3 acres/GWh/yr for CSP towers and CPV installations to 5.5 acres/GWh/yr for small 2-axis flat panel
PV power plants. Across all solar technologies, the total area generation-weighted average is 3.5
acres/GWh/yr with 40% of power plants within 3 and 4 acres/GWh/yr. For direct-area requirements the
generation-weighted average is 2.9 acres/GWh/yr, with 49% of power plants within 2.5 and 3.5
acres/GWh/yr. On a capacity basis, the total-area capacity-weighted average is
8.9 acres/MWac, with 22% of power plants within 8 and 10 acres/MWac. For direct land-use
requirements, the capacity-weighted average is 7.3 acre/MWac, with 40% of power plants within 6 and
8 acres/MWac. Other published estimates of solar direct land use generally fall within
these ranges.