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Solar Techno-economic Exclusion

Metadata Updated: March 30, 2024

The site suitability criteria included in the techno-economic land use screens are listed below. As this list is an update to previous cycles, tribal lands, prime farmland, and flood zones are not included as they are not technically infeasible for development. The techno-economic site suitability exclusion thresholds are presented in Table 1. Distances indicate the minimum distance from each feature for commercial scale solar development.Attributes:Steeply sloped areas: change in vertical elevation compared to horizontal distancePopulation density: the number of people living in a 1 km2 areaUrban areas: defined by the U.S. Census.8Water bodies: defined by the U.S. National Atlas Water Feature Areas, available from Argonne National Lab Energy Zone Mapping Tool9Railways: a comprehensive database of North America's railway system from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), available from Argonne National Lab Energy Zone Mapping ToolMajor highways: available from ESRI Living Atlas10Airports: The Airports dataset including other aviation facilities as of July 13, 2018 is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT)/Bureau of Transportation Statistics' (BTS's) National Transportation Atlas Database (NTAD). The Airports database is a geographic point database of aircraft landing facilities in the United States and U.S. Territories. Attribute data is provided on the physical and operational characteristics of the landing facility, current usage including enplanements and aircraft operations, congestion levels and usage categories. This geospatial data is derived from the FAA's National Airspace System Resource Aeronautical Data Product. Available from Argonne National Lab Energy Zone Mapping ToolActive mines: Active Mines and Mineral Processing Plants in the United States in 200311Military Lands: Land owned by the federal government that is part of  a US military base, camp, post, station, yard, center or installation.Table 1


Steeply sloped areas


Population density


Capacity factor


Urban areas

<500 m

Water bodies

<250 m


<30 m

Major highways

<125 m


<1000 m

Active mines

<1000 m

Military Lands


For more information about the processes and sources used to develop the screening criteria see sources 1-7 in the footnotes.

Data updates occur as needed, corresponding to typical 3-year CPUC IRP planning cycles.Footnotes:[1] Lopez, A. et. al. “U.S. Renewable Energy Technical Potentials: A GIS-Based Analysis,” 2012.[2][3] Multi-Criteria Analysis for Renewable Energy (MapRE), University of California Santa Barbara.[4] Larson, E. et. al. “Net-Zero America: Potential Pathways, Infrastructure, and Impacts, Interim Report.” Princeton University, 2020.[5] Wu, G. et. al. “Low-Impact Land Use Pathways to Deep Decarbonization of Electricity.” Environmental Research Letters 15, no. 7 (July 10, 2020).[6] RETI Coordinating Committee, RETI Stakeholder Steering Committee. “Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative Phase 1B Final Report.” California Energy Commission, January 2009.[7] Pletka, Ryan, and Joshua Finn. “Western Renewable Energy Zones, Phase 1: QRA Identification Technical Report.” Black & Veatch and National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2009.[8][9][10][11] Techno-economic screening criteria for utility-scale solar photovoltaic energy installations for Integrated Resource PlanningPurpose for creation: These exclusion criteria are for use in electric system planning, capacity expansion modeling, and integrated resource planning.Keywords: solar, photovoltaic, resource potential, techno-economic, PV, IRPExtent: western states of the contiguous U.S.Use LimitationsThe geospatial data created by the use of these techno-economic screens inform high-level estimates of technical renewable resource potential for electric system planning and should not be used, on their own, to guide siting of generation projects nor assess project-level impacts. Confidentiality: PublicContactEmily Leslie Emily@MontaraMtEnergy.comSam Schreiber Jared Ferguson

Oluwafemi Sawyerr

Access & Use Information

Public: This dataset is intended for public access and use. Non-Federal: This dataset is covered by different Terms of Use than License: No license information was provided.

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Metadata Created Date August 12, 2023
Metadata Updated Date March 30, 2024

Metadata Source

Harvested from State of California

Additional Metadata

Resource Type Dataset
Metadata Created Date August 12, 2023
Metadata Updated Date March 30, 2024
Publisher California Energy Commission
Identifier dfa32c5e-29a2-4d2f-8aa7-daf6b51e5869
Data First Published 2023-03-01T00:39:55.000Z
Data Last Modified 2023-10-26T16:14:05.029Z
Category Natural Resources
Public Access Level public
Metadata Context
Schema Version
Catalog Describedby
Harvest Object Id dc813fdd-20fd-4aa2-ad7d-87a099b1494d
Harvest Source Id 3ba8a0c1-5dc2-4897-940f-81922d3cf8bc
Harvest Source Title State of California
Source Datajson Identifier True
Source Hash fc29e3fad42b8de675f41a9b56e67a717cb010cf9b2121be54ca6f859f264e26
Source Schema Version 1.1

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