New York is fairly forward-thinking when it comes to energy innovation, but it's pretty terrible when it comes to solar. City College of New York wants to change that, so they created an interactive solar map of the city using laser airplanes.
The planes used LiDar to map the city last spring, creating the most detailed 3D image of New York to date. The data focuses on the layout of the city—how sunlight washes over its various nooks and crannies—to determine which areas and buildings are best or at all suited for solar panel installation. The data will also be used to hash out other plans that depend on the city's layout, such as flood planning.
The interactive map informs users of the maximum solar output that can be installed on a particular building, as well as the savings that would be amassed over the course of a year. The hope is that the information will nudge New Yorkers toward installing the panels themselves. The maximum solar capacity for the city as a whole is 5,847 megawatts of solar power, but right now only 6.6 megawatts are generated by 400 installations. A similar project in San Francisco increased the number of installations from 551 in 2007 to 2,300 today. [CUNY via FastCo, NYT]
Image Credit: Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times