Geographic Potential of Utility-Scale Solar PV for South Carolina


This project assessed the potential for utility-scale solar power in the state of South Carolina from a geophysical standpoint. Using ArcGIS, optimal locations for the implementation of solar technologies were determined, and the resulting potential energy of these sites was calculated. Physical, social, and environmental limitations – such as land use, land type, protected areas, slope, and aspect – were considered in order to create a suitability model, and Global Horizontal Irradiance data was then used to determine approximately how much power could be supplied by large-scale solar projects in South Carolina. This project was undertaken with help from Clemson Center for Geospatial Technologies (CCGT).

At present, South Carolina’s energy sector is dominated by imported coal, nuclear power, and natural gas-fired power plants. However, as the environmental and economic impacts of fossil-fuels continue to rise, South Carolina will need to develop a cost-effective plan to increase the deployment of renewable energy. Studies such as this can be used to illustrate to policymakers and developers optimal sites for consideration and the potential of certain technologies in the state.

Future work on this project from this project will assess the technical potential for utility-scale PV within the state by incorporating cost factors such as distance of locations to transmission and road networks, as well as performance factors of installed systems by coupling with CCGT's Solar Radiation Analysis for South Carolina.