Degree Name

Master of Research


School of Earth, Atmospheric and Life Sciences


Long-term climate change mitigation calls for a switch from the current global non-renewable energy system to low greenhouse gas (GHG) emission energy solutions. Many nations have started adopting energy-efficient technology as part of their climate change programs and the built environment has been identified as a key lever for reducing emissions linked to energy efficiency. Building rooftop photovoltaic (PV) system is an effective technology to reduce emissions through the use of solar energy. In recent years, rooftop PV systems have become the main source of solar-generated energy, and forecasting their output is critical when assessing a site's PV energy potential. However, integrating topographical features with seasonal considerations to estimate solar PV energy is challenging. There are some studies available that estimate solar PV energy on rooftops using geospatial tool modeling, but these have limitations in functionality, accuracy, and calculation speed. This study uses a geospatial tool to assess the solar PV potential of suitable rooftops in the suburbs of Wollongong, Australia, namely, Wombarra and Cringila. The model used in this study compares the energy potential of these two suburbs based on the topographical feature (escarpment), seasonality, rooftop slope, and aspect. The digital surface model (DSM) is created using LiDAR data, and then the DSM, building footprints, and suburb boundaries data are used to calculate the solar PV energy potential. A total of 1594 buildings from two suburbs were considered. Subsequently, solar radiation modeling for four common seasons in a year and a comparison of solar radiation output, suitable rooftop area, and electricity output are being done for both suburbs. Wombarra's building rooftops are shadowed by the escarpment, whereas Cringila's aren't. Even though the weather in both suburbs is similar, the escarpment's shadow affects solar PV energy output. Wombarra has 178 kWh/m2/building lesser yearly solar radiation than Cringila. Hence, Cringila offers more solar rooftop installation potential per building. The average annual potential electricity generation per dwelling in Wombarra is 20.6 kWh/m2/day, and the same for Cringila is 27.6 kWh/m2/day. The outcome reveals that 1352 building rooftops, with a usable area of 75481 m2, are the best locations for installing solar panels. According to the Australian Government's Energy Made Easy statistics, the annual electricity consumption per household in Wollongong is 5707.6 kWh (Australian Energy Regulator 2022). The estimated yearly electricity production is 12705 Mwh (Wombarra: 2778.3 Mwh, Cringila: 9926.7 Mwh), which would be sufficient to meet local electricity consumption. An excess of 17% from Wombarra and 48% from Cringila can be exported back to the grid, which can be used by 3 neighbouring areas. Tiseo (2021) reported that Australia's power sector released 656.4 grams/kWh of CO2 in 2020. Therefore, solar PV panels on all suitable rooftops of both suburbs could prevent 8339.5 tonnes of CO2 emissions. To achieve the goal of clean energy, future development can use the study's findings as a guide. The proposed approach can assist in influencing policies and subsidies to boost deployment. This research can be made more in-depth by taking into account social and economic factors like consumer choices and return on investment, and physically inspecting specific building rooftop impediments.

FoR codes (2020)

3704 Geoinformatics, 3709 Physical geography and environmental geoscience


Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.