Mapping solar array location, size, and capacity using deep learning and overhead imagery

by   Jordan M. Malof, et al.

The effective integration of distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays into existing power grids will require access to high quality data; the location, power capacity, and energy generation of individual solar PV installations. Unfortunately, existing methods for obtaining this data are limited in their spatial resolution and completeness. We propose a general framework for accurately and cheaply mapping individual PV arrays, and their capacities, over large geographic areas. At the core of this approach is a deep learning algorithm called SolarMapper - which we make publicly available - that can automatically map PV arrays in high resolution overhead imagery. We estimate the performance of SolarMapper on a large dataset of overhead imagery across three US cities in California. We also describe a procedure for deploying SolarMapper to new geographic regions, so that it can be utilized by others. We demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed deployment procedure by using it to map solar arrays across the entire US state of Connecticut (CT). Using these results, we demonstrate that we achieve highly accurate estimates of total installed PV capacity within each of CT's 168 municipal regions.


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