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    New York City Solar Power Potential Mapped

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    A new, 3D solar map of New York City shows New Yorkers the solar energy potential of their city, the largest in the United States. The map's creators want to show that solar power is more than just an abstract idea.

    A recently developed map shows building owners in New York City how they can take advantage of solar energy.

    Developed at City University at New York's Hunter College, the solar map offers a 3D image of every building, street and tree in New York City.

    An Internet application lets people type in their address to see how much it will cost to fit their rooftop with solar panels and how much money they'll save over time.

    Sean Ahearn, a professor at City University, says that for some people the solar map will turn the theory of solar energy into reality.

    [Sean Ahearn, Professor, City University]:
    "The solar potential of a city is always something that is a bit abstract, and everybody says 'Boy if we only did solar, it would be so helpful.' But what this application has done is it's turned something that is very abstract into something that people can get their arms around. They can actually now figure out how much money they would save."

    Ahearn created the 3D solar map using LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology.

    Airplanes using LiDAR lasers have mapped all of the city's five boroughs with an accuracy of plus or minus 3 inches.

    Ahearn explains that with the solar map application, people can see how much usable space is on their rooftop for solar panels.

    [Sean Ahearn, Professor, City University]:
    "It means they are actually able to figure out how much it would cost to put a solar unit on the roof, what would be the return on investment, how many years before they paid for it, and how much they would save on their utility bill each month."