Green Building, Roofing, Sustainability/Business Continuity

‘A Perfect Opportunity’: U.S. Warehouses Have Huge Rooftop Solar Potential

Covering the roofs of America’s warehouses and distribution centers with solar panels could generate enough clean energy to power nearly 20 million homes, according to a new report from the Environment America Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group.

Courtesy: Solect Energy

“If we want to create a clean energy future, we should look first to the already-built environment that could host the tools we need. Warehouse rooftops provide a perfect opportunity—they’re big, they’re flat, and they’re begging to be put to this crucial use,” said Susan Rakov, chair of the Environment America Research & Policy Center’s clean energy program and managing director of Frontier Group. Rakov also noted rooftop solar “preserves open space.”

The United States has more than 450,000 warehouses and distribution centers, with many more under construction. Cumulatively, America’s warehouses have almost 16.4 billion square feet of rooftop space— about twice the area of Memphis, Tennessee, one of the 30 largest U.S. cities.

The report said putting solar on all these warehouse roofs could generate 185.6 terawatt-hours (TWh) of solar electricity each year, enough to power almost 19.4 million households. It would also reduce global-warming pollution equivalent to more than 112 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. That’s like removing 24 million gasoline-powered passenger vehicles from the road for a year or taking 30 coal-fired power plants offline.

“The key to realizing the solar potential of warehouse rooftops is for warehouse owners to connect with solar developers and for utility companies to quickly connect rooftop solar systems to the grid,” said Alex Keally, SVP of Solect Energy, a Massachusetts-based company that has completed numerous rooftop solar projects on warehouses.

California, Florida, Illinois, Texas, and Georgia have the largest warehouse solar generation potential in the United States. The full report is available here.

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