First Advisor

Loren Lutzenhiser

Date of Publication

Summer 8-27-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Urban Studies (M.U.S.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies and Planning




Building-integrated photovoltaic systems -- Pacific Northwest, Photovoltaic power generation – Pacific Northwest -- Cost effectiveness, Atmospheric carbon dioxide -- Environmental aspects -- Pacific Northwest, Fossil fuels -- Environmental aspects -- Pacific Northwest, Electric power production -- Pacific Northwest



Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 90 pages)


This thesis estimates the impacts of rooftop photovoltaic (PV) capacity on electricity generation and CO2 emissions in America's Pacific Northwest. The region's demand for electricity is increasing at the same time that it is attempting to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. The electricity generated by rooftop PV capacity is expected to displace electricity from fossil fueled electricity generators and reduce CO2 emissions, but when and how much? And how can this region maximize and focus the impacts of additional rooftop PV capacity on CO2 emissions? To answer these questions, an hourly urban rooftop PV generation profile for 2009 was created from estimates of regional rooftop PV capacity and solar resource data. That profile was compared with the region's hourly fossil fuel generation profile for 2009 to determine how much urban rooftop PV generation reduced annual fossil fuel electricity generation and CO2 emissions. Those reductions were then projected for a range of additional multiples of rooftop PV capacity. The conclusions indicate that additional rooftop PV capacity in the region primarily displaces electricity from natural gas generators, and shows that the timing of rooftop PV generation corresponds with the use of fossil fuel generators. Each additional Wp/ capita of rooftop PV capacity reduces CO2 emissions by 9,600 to 7,300 tons/ year. The final discussion proposes some methods to maximize and focus rooftop PV impacts on CO2 emissions, and also suggests some questions for further research.


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