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As Michigan communities embrace solar power, it is critical to understand how our State’s unique geography can best accommodate this transition. Beckett & Raeder, Inc. performed a spatial analysis to determine the land most suitable for solar development in Acme Township, Michigan.

The planning team used a 10-meter resolution digital elevation model of the township to determine areas that receive at least six hours of solar radiation at winter solstice. The resultant map showed that most land within the township met this minimum exposure necessary to support solar power. Similarly, the team used elevation data to determine the township lands that have a slope within 30 degrees of due south. The resulting map revealed that significant areas in the central and southern extent of the Township were characterized by this desirable slope.


These two major variables were overlaid in a final solar suitability map. Sensitive landscapes such as USDA-defined prime farmland and wetlands were removed as potential solar sites in this final analysis. Lands within the township that received eight or more hours of sunlight during winter solstice and had slope within 20 degrees of due south were classified as “best conditions.” The final map showed that 364 of these highly suitable acres fell mostly within the far northern extent or the central - southern extent of the township. The team’s analysis should serve as a guide to the Township as it updates its zoning ordinance to allow solar development.

Acme Township Solar Suitability Assessment
Acme Township, Michigan
2018 Innovation Award, IMAGIN

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