A quick-scan method to assess photovoltaic rooftop potential based on aerial imagery and LiDAR

Tim N.C. de Vries, Joris Bronkhorst, Martijn Vermeer, Jaap C.B. Donker, Sven A. Briels, Hesan Ziar, Miro Zeman, Olindo Isabella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


A quick-scan yield prediction method has been developed to assess rooftop photovoltaic (PV) potential. The method has three main parts. For each roof, first (i) virtual 3D roof segments were reconstructed using aerial imagery, then, (ii) PV modules were automatically fitted onto roof segments using a fitting algorithm and finally, (iii) expected annual yield was calculated. For each roof, the annual yield was calculated by three different quick yield calculation approaches. Two approaches are commercial software packages of Solar Monkey (SM) and Photovoltaic Geographical Information System (PVGIS) whereas the other one is the simplified skyline-based approach developed in photovoltaic material and devices (PVMD) group of Delft University of Technology. To validate the quick-scan method, a set of 145 roofs and 215 roof segments were chosen in urban areas in the Netherlands. For the chosen roofs, the number of fitted modules and calculated yield were compared with the actual modular layout and the measured yield of existing PV systems. Results showed a satisfactory agreement between the quick-scan yield prediction and measured annual yield per roof, with relative standard deviations of 7.2%, 9.1%, and 7.5% respectively for SM, PVGIS, and PVMD approaches. It was concluded that the obstacle-including approaches (e.g. SM and PVMD) outperformed the approaches which neglect the shading by surrounding obstacles (e.g. PVGIS). Results also showed that 3D roof segments had added value as input for the quick-scan PV yield prediction methods since the precision of yield prediction was significantly lower using only 2D land register data of buildings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-107
Number of pages12
JournalSolar Energy
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Annual energy yield
  • Automatic PV system design
  • Module fitting
  • PV potential
  • PV systems
  • Quick-scan
  • Rooftop PV
  • Urban PV
  • Yield prediction

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