University of California, Riverside


Solar Road Map

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Solar Road Map Under Development for Riverside Rooftops

Development of a Solar Road Map for the City of Riverside is underway at the College of Engineering-Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT).

rooftopConducted by the Center's Southern California Research Initiative for Solar Energy (SC-RISE), the Solar Road Map will evaluate the potential for photovoltaic (PV) electricity generation on city roof tops and other open spaces.

Projections are that electricity demand will reach 3,000 MWh by 2020, far outstripping current capacity. SC-RISE's Solar Working Group, consisting of representatives of city government, the Riverside Public Utilities (RPU), industry, as well as university and business solar experts, is examining solar electric generation as part of the solution.

The working group met Sept. 10 to review the prospects and the barriers to increasing solar power generation in the city as part of a strategy to make up the energy deficit and to replace power now generated by fossil fuels.

The economics of solar power are volatile and complex, as more players of varied experience enter the solar industry at various levels, according to Steve Pitzek, a UCR graduate researcher in Electrical Engineering, who is studying the solar potential, PV system costs and economic feasibility of a Solar Road Map for the City of Riverside.

The group is evaluating current retail costs for a model 10 kW PV system, as an appropriate baseline system for developing a solar strategy that integrates different financial tools. Pitzek's analysis suggests that a reasonable cost for a 10 kW system is now $5.75 (plus or minus $.25) per installed Watt.

Other key findings that the Solar Road Map will attempt to quantify are the impacts of Feed-in Tariffs (FiT), the job market, government rebates and other incentives on the adoption of sustainable technologies. The price of electricity and the developing investment climate will always be wild cards in a decade-long effort to change old energy production habits, the working group agreed.

The Feed-in Tariff is the innovation that is likely to be most important to SC-RISE's solar goal. The ability of solar installations to sell power up-stream to the grid has been critical to the success of the proliferation of solar technology in Germany and Spain, according to Laura Berland-Shane, Business Development Manager of Alternative Energy Solutions, for SIEMENS.

Berland-Shane discussed a FiT proposal now being considered by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. The study, for the LA Business Council by UCLA's Luskin Center for Innovation, recommended FiTs as effective for stimulating economic, widespread adoption of solar power in that city.

The best case for making Riverside a leading solar power city would be to come up with a mixture of incentives that would allow investors to pay off their costs and the utility to purchase market cost electricity within five to seven years, Pitzek said. "We need to be able to look at it like buying an auto," he added.

Riverside Mayor Ronald Loveridge said such a comprehensive examination of the issues is what is needed to advance the city's interest in sustainable energy production. "This is the big picture," he said, "something we don't normally get to take on."

A draft of a Solar Road Map is expected to be completed by early 2011, said Alfredo A. Martinez-Morales, SC-RISE managing director.

RPU's PV rebate program has helped produce 1.8 MW of installed solar capacity in Riverside. Another 3 MW are in the process of being installed and 1.5 MW are in the planning process. The stated goal of SC-RISE is to increase installed PV in the city to at least 20 MW by 2020.


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General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

College Information

Southern California Research Initiative for Solar Energy
1084 Columbia Ave.
Riverside, CA 92507

Tel: (951) 781-5652
Fax: (951) 781-5790