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Solar Potential on Public Buildings in Minneapolis

| Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Jun 15, 2015 The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at

placeholderHow much solar is installed on municipal buildings? How much could be installed?

As we discovered in writing ILSR’s Public Rooftop Revolution report—the latest in the Rooftop Revolution series—nobody had the answer, for almost every city we contacted.

But in the course of the research, three cities answered our call to analyze their rooftop solar potential specifically for public property. Our first release is for the city of Minneapolis, MN, where analysis by Tom Anderson, a Masters student at the University of Minnesota, suggests the city could put 18 megawatts on public building roofs across town.

All told, we estimated that 5,000 megawatts of solar could be installed relatively quickly on the public buildings of 201 cities (of 100,000 people or more) in the states where cities can contract to buy electricity directly from a non-utility company.

The map is based on a citywide survey of solar suitability on buildings and it includes city-owned and school district-owned buildings. Of the 250 buildings analyzed, 185 were identified that were suitable for solar (136 city-owned, 49 belonging to the school district).  According to the city’s building dataset, “this analysis included roof size, pitch and shading. No analysis was done of the structural capacity or limitations of buildings, which may impact solar suitability in some cases.” Furthermore, no analysis was provided for on-site energy consumption, which can be a limiting factor for solar installations under net metering rules.

Minneapolis Solar Potential Municipal buildings map

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