Rooftop Photovoltaic Technical Potential in the United States

This data submission contains a workbook with data, and three sets of shapefiles that correspond to that data.
Contact: Meghan Mooney,

The workbook contains data that underlies the 2016 technical report Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic Technical Potential in the United States: A Detailed Assessment.

This data is separated into small, medium, and large buildings. A small building is less than 5,000 square feet, a medium building is between 5,000 and 25,000 square feet, and a large building is greater than 25,000 square feet. The suitability of roof area for hosting PV was determined based on shading (energy production not less than 70% of an identical unshaded system in the same location), tilt (no greater than 60 degree tilt), azimuth (not facing north), and contiguous roof area (at least 10 square meters available) criteria. For further documentation of methods and assumptions, see the 2016 report.

The tab Rooftop_PV_with_Lidar_Coverage contains estimates for zip codes where at least some lidar data was available. The zip_percentage column indicates the percentage of area of each zip code was covered by lidar data -- only buildings within the covered area are reported here, meaning that the values for incompletely covered zip codes are under-reported.

The tab Small_Building_Suitability contains estimates of the number of small buildings and the percentage of those buildings that have at least some area that is suitable for rooftop PV, for all zip codes in the contiguous US. Where lidar data was not available, a model was used to estimate the data. Estimates for medium and large buildings were not produced at the zip code level, because of insufficient input data.
5 Data Resources
Name Size Type Resource Description History
Rooftop_PV_Technical_Potential.xlsx 5.37 MB Data Rooftop PV technical potential estimates 14.18 MB Archive Shapefile
Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic Technical Potential in the United States 0 KB Website Corresponding technical report 174.26 MB Archive Shapefile 238.42 MB Archive Shapefile
Author Information
Pieter Gagnon, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Robert Margolis, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Caleb Phillips, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3665-4239
Cite This Dataset
Gagnon, Pieter, Robert Margolis, and Caleb Phillips. 2019. "Rooftop Photovoltaic Technical Potential in the United States." NREL Data Catalog. Golden, CO: National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Last updated: December 12, 2023. DOI: 10.7799/1575064.
About This Dataset
DOE Project
Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic Technical Potential in the United States: A Detailed Assessment
Funding Organization
Department of Energy (DOE)
Sponsoring Organization
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Solar Energy Technologies Office (EE-4S)
Research Areas
Energy Analysis
Energy Systems Integration
Grid Modernization
Solar Power
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Digital Object Identifier