Is Oakland Doing Enough to Protect the Environment & Combat Climate Change?


By Kyle Pennell

Have you ever wondered how green Oakland is and how we are contributing to protecting the environment and combating climate change? One major way we do this is by changing the way we produce electricity. Household electricity consumption accounts for about one-third of all energy use, so by reducing or eliminating fossil fuels in electricity production, we can significantly reduce our carbon footprint as individuals and as a city. Installing solar panels is theeasiest and most effective way to make electricity more sustainable.

We know that more Oakland residents each year are installing solar panels on their rooftops. But we were were curious just how many rooftops have solar and how much electricity gets generated from them in Oakland. If every rooftop in Oakland had solar panels, how much electricity would this generate? Finally, how much carbon emissions would be saved by all of this?

We partnered with PowerScout, an Oakland-based U.S. Department of Energy funded startup, to help us answer these questions. PowerScout has built machine learning rooftop scanning algorithms to analyze satellite imagery of rooftops to determine which homes have installed solar panels and which haven’t. In addition to satellite imagery, the machine learning algorithm draws on about 2,000 data points per home culled from property data, weather reports, electricity prices, and other information sources to make its assessments.

How ‘Solarized’ is Oakland?

Oakland has a total of 67784 single family houses or townhomes, where consumers can adopt solar panels. PowerScout found that 2954 homes in Oakland have adopted solar power, showing a penetration rate of 4.36%.

The Oakland households that have switched to solar are saving about $3039 in their annual electric costs. Switching to solar has allowed Oakland to avoid 197918 tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year – equivalent to taking out 41356 cars off roads.

How does Oakland compare to neighboring cities like Berkeley, Piedmont and Alameda?

Oakland has more solar panel users than neighboring cities but lags behind on a per capita basis.

If all Oakland households were to go solar, that would mean an additional savings of $158 million per year and taking out an additional 41,356 cars off roads. It seems a worthy goal to aspire for, especially when solar can make you $Green while helping our environment be Green.

Kyle Pennell is the content manager at PowerScout, a solar power marketplace based in Jack London square.


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