We recently released the summary results of an internal study by Recurrent Energy assessing the solar potential of US rooftops controlled by REITs and institutional investors. The study is a nice complement to those developed by Navigant for the CEC and DOE, assessing the California and national solar rooftop market opportunity.
The Navigant studies present a rigourous projection of market size under various cost scenarios. Our study is meant to answer a different question: what is the maximum generating potential of solar friendly rooftops controlled by institutional investors? This is an important question--for Recurrent Energy and for the future of the US solar market--because institutional property owners control the single largest concentration of solar-suitable rooftops.
Here's the relevant sections of our study:
Institutional owners of U.S. commercial real estate, including publicly owned real estate investment trusts (REITs), control enough rooftop real estate to generate 40,000 megawatts of solar power. A third of those rooftops are located in markets where solar can be a cost-effective source of electricity, according to Recurrent Energy, a San Francisco-based solar services provider.
Currently, there is approximately 8.5 billion square feet of investor-owned large (> 35,000 s.f.) commercial rooftops nationwide, according to data analyzed by Recurrent Energy. Of this figure, about 5.5 billion square feet is considered suitable for photovoltaic installations because the roofs are flat and free of shading. Roughly two billion square feet of this space is located in states that currently have – or will have in place by 2010 – favorable incentives for solar electric generation. These rooftops could accommodate up to 15,000 megawatts (MW) of solar electric generation, compared to a total of less than 750 MW currently installed throughout the U.S. in both off-grid and grid-connected installations.
The study uses data from the DOE, various real estate industry databases, and models from Recurrent Energy.