The Potential for Climate Impacts from Widespread Deployment of Utility-Scale...

Li, S. (2017), The Potential for Climate Impacts from Widespread Deployment of Utility-Scale Solar Energy Installations: An Environmental Remote Sensing Perspective, Journal of Remote Sensing &, Gis, 6, 1-6, doi:10.4172/2469-4134.1000190.

Solar energy systems directly benefit the environment by avoiding CO2 emissions that would otherwise be generated from fossil-fuel power plants. Indirect impacts to climate may also result at local-, regional-, and globalscales, but these impacts are as yet poorly understood and characterized. Widespread deployment of utility-scale solar energy (USSE) installations may alter the radiative balance at the land-atmosphere interface by shifting radiative forcing that eventually changes climate. When USSE installations displace cropland or desert surface, this deployment introduces complicated effects on local radiative forcing. This article presents for the first time satellitebased measurements to assess USSE impacts on earth-atmosphere interactions relating to climate feedbacks. Long-term shortwave albedo and longwave emissivity data derived from NASA satellites were used for this case study to assess the potential radiative balance effects of USSE deployment. The results show that USSE deployment appears to change albedo and emissivity. Albedo decreased and emissivity generally increased in two of three instances when a USSE installation was constructed in semi-arid regions.

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Research Program: 
Climate Variability and Change Program
Energy & Water Cycle Program (EWCP)