Monday, January 25, 2016

Potential of Solar Power on the University of Texas Campus

The University of Texas has a lot of potential in the solar power industry with the massive amount of uncovered roof space the campus has, which was found using LiDAR (Light detection and Ranging) and GIS. But there are many economic barriers that are stalling the instillation of solar panels on campus, such as the cost effectiveness compared to the already effective and cheap natural gas power plant installed on campus.

 LiDAR is used by creating thousands of measure points in three-dimensional space by placing  the system to the bottom of airplanes and scanning large areas, similar to sonar in ships but airborne. The system scans large areas by shooting out lasers pules and measuring how long it takes for the laser to bounce back from the surface. Which creates images similar to the one below.

By using LiDAR over the University of Texas campus it is seen that there is an abundance of uncovered roofing. Which the author uses as an argument for the purchase and installment of solar panels on the campus. But, the largest problem faced was the initial cost to install solar panels campus wide, and whether or not it would actually benefit the university in the long run. With the cost of solar panels continuing to decrease, it is possible that we may see solar panels on the campus in time, but at the moment prices are too high.

Sounny-Slitine, M. A. Potential of Solar Power on the University of Texas Campus.


  1. Would the LiDAR method of mapping be a good way to predict whether or not the campus would be a good recipient of wind turbines? If cost is primary issue with this plan, would it make sense to explore some alternative methods of energy production.

  2. This is an interesting study and could be extended to all of downtown Austin. Or more specifically, what downtown buildings have roof access such as bars, hotels, & restaurants. Not necessarily important information but I wonder if it could be analyzed at a deeper level to see if these roofs are acceptable under fire code safety laws.