Solar Siting Opportunities for Rhode Island

Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources
Completed March 2021

On behalf of the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources (OER), Synapse conducted a geospatial analysis to determine an estimate of the likely solar potential available within a number of solar siting categories. Synapse examined and quantified solar potential for the following six siting categories:

-Rooftop solar (including rooftops of residential single family, residential multifamily, commercial, industrial, municipal, and other building types)

-Ground-mounted solar in the following four categories: (1) Landfills, (2) gravel pits, (3) brownfields, and (4) commercial and industrial developed and undeveloped lots

-Parking lot / carport solar

We used geospatial analysis to examine the following types of potentials for each category of solar:

-Total Potential, an estimate of the solar potential for the entire area under consideration, with no exceptions.

-Technical Potential, an estimate of the potential excluding areas not suitable for solar development. These challenges may reduce technical potential, relative to total potential.

For residential rooftop solar, we also analyzed:

-Economic Potential, an estimate of the solar potential that is likely to be installed, given the current cost of the technology, the current financial incentives available, and the household economics specific to a municipality. This potential category was analyzed for residential rooftop solar only.

In addition, for each category of solar, we compiled estimates of these MW potentials translated into gigawatt-hour (GWh) generation potential, solar costs (based on costs available as of late 2019 / early 2020), avoided greenhouse gas emissions, and possible impacts on distribution system hosting capacity.

On August 18th, 2020, Synapse staff presented the results of this analysis in an online webinar presentation, which can be found here. A list of webinar attendees can be found here.