Resource Profile: Solar Energy in Utah
In 2009 the State of Utah commissioned the Utah Renewable Energy Zones Phase I report, an extensive assessment of the various renewable resources available for development. Below is a summary of the UREZ findings on solar energy:
This analysis Utah’s theoretical potential for deriving electric power from solar resources. Utah’s solar resources are clearly abundant. The analysis identified 6,371 square miles of land that has a theoretical potential of about 826 gigawatts (GW) of utility-scale capacity. The solar analysis used several criteria to shape the methodology: (1) measurements of Direct Normal Irradiance (DNI), with a threshold value of 6.0 kilowatt hours per meter squared (kWh/m2)/day or greater, (2) screening out steeper areas (slopes of 3% or greater) unable to accommodate a large solar collection field, (3) screening out environmentally sensitive areas such as national parks, wilderness areas, wetlands, etc., that are not available for development, and (4) applying proxy technology, of a 50 megawatt (MW) parabolic trough concentrating solar thermal power plant, to estimate electrical energy capacity.
Major findings from the solar assessment are:
• Sixteen thousand five hundred (16,500) theoretically potential 50 MW solar REZ areas (1 km square zones) were identified (826 GW).
• The geospatial distribution of the quality of the solar resource follows a simple north to south trend.
• Southern Utah has the higher quality resources (6.5 kWh/m2/day or greater), while northern Utah has a slightly lower quality solar resource (6.0 kWh/m2/day or less).
• The prime solar Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) areas constitute less than 1.5% of the identified sites, while the majority of the sites (43.2%) have a lower resource potential.
• The total area of the solar REZs is 6,371 square miles.