Building Solar Cities

How much solar energy can we put in cities? There’s sort of a default assumption that cities get their power from elsewhere, often from far-flung power plants in rural areas. And there’s a lot of solar developers thinking that way.

But solar is different, and there’s lots of opportunity to build solar in cities–and to create massive social benefit along the way. So how much solar energy can we put in cities? What can we do with solar in cities? And how much benefit would we create ? That’s what we set to find out from four of the world’s leading experts on solar energy.

John Byrne is the director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy (CEEP) and a distinguished professor of energy and climate policy at the University of Delaware.

Job Taminiau is the climate & energy research and policy analyst at the Foundation for Renewable Energy and Environment.

Joseph Nyangon is the senior industry consultant for power and utilities innovation at the SAS Institute (Energy & Utilities Division).

Christiana Honsberg is director of the Quantum Energy and Sustainable Solar Technologies Engineering Research Center and a professor in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering at Arizona State University.

The next three decades are a unique opportunity in the history of cities: the chance to remake two of the central systems that have defined and organized the city for the past two hundred years–electricity and the automobile. The choices we make in redesigning these systems will have profound implications for how people live, work and play in the post-carbon city of the future. At the heart of those choices is the humble solar panel: a source of abundant, cheap, clean power that is already reconfiguring urban and rural landscapes. In the coming decades, we will deploy billions of solar panels around the globe. What makes the solar panel different from previous energy technologies is its flexibility to be deployed in a wide variety of social, economic and engineered forms, including in a host of different forms inside cities. Inspired by the Center for Energy & Society’s newest book, “Cities of Light: A Collection of Solar Futures,” this webinar will explore some of the diverse ways solar energy can be used to design the future of the post-carbon city. In particular, the speakers will explore several new proposals for transforming cities into “solar cities” through extensive solar deployment in order to help create sustainability, resilience and other societal and economic benefits for tomorrow’s urban communities.

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