City rooftops could supply nearly 40 percent of US power, study says

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Rooftops could be the next big bet for bringing clean energy to more United States households.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory released a report in March that said if we slathered viable American rooftops with solar panels, the U.S. could potentially produce enough energy to cover 39 percent of the electricity we consume annually.

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That's about 1,118 gigawatts worth of power. Specifically the report hones in on an unlikely candidate: Small rooftops. "Although only 26 percent of the total rooftop area on small buildings (those with a footprint smaller than 5,000 square feet) is suitable for [photovoltaic systems] deployment, the sheer number of buildings in this class gives small buildings the greatest technical potential," the NREL wrote. The study said small buildings represent 65 percent of rooftop technical potential.

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City rooftops could supply nearly 40 percent of US power, study says
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The study mapped 128 cities over three years to find out how many rooftops would be suitable for solar panels. In particular, the study found Mission Viejo, California; Concord, New Hampshire; Sacramento, California; and Buffalo, New York, could become especially energy efficient if solar panels were deployed on more roofs. According to the study, Mission Viejo could meet 88 percent of the city's own estimated consumption, while Concord could meet around 72 percent of its estimated consumption.

While spreading solar panels to more rooftops could put a lot more clean energy on the grid, there are still other opportunities to expand solar energy production, report co-author Robert Margolis highlighted in a press release.

"It is important to note that this report only estimates the potential from existing, suitable rooftops, and does not consider the immense potential of ground-mounted [photovoltaic systems]," said Margolis, a senior energy analyst at NREL. He said installing solar panels on parking lot canopies, car ports or on the sides of buildings could unlock even more solar energy in urban areas.

RELATED: Get out of the city and check out the Amazon

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Brazil Amazon rainforest in danger, deforestation through the years
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City rooftops could supply nearly 40 percent of US power, study says
ARCOS FALLS, PRESIDENTE FIGUEIREDO, AMAZONAS STATE, BRAZIL - 2015/09/09: Cachoeira das Arcos ( Arcos Falls ) at Presidente Figueiredo, Amazonas State, Brazil - ecotourism at Amazon rainforest. (Photo by Ricardo Siqueira/Brazil Photos/LightRocket via Getty Images)
BRAZIL - 2015/08/28: Transportation of timber logs, Amazon rainforest deforestation, Brazil. (Photo by Ricardo Beliel/Brazil Photos/LightRocket via Getty Images)
ANCHIETA HIGHWAY - SERRA DO MAR, SAO PAULO STATE, BRAZIL - 2015/11/01: Rodovia Anchieta (Anchieta Highway, official designation SP-150), a highway connection between Sao Paulo city and the Atlantic coast, the cities of Cubatao and Santos, in Brazil. In the plateau, the highway traverses a picturesque region of dams and rain forests. It is a major pride of the Brazilian engineering, because it was built with a great number of bridges and tunnels along the steep cliffs of Serra do Mar. (Photo by Ricardo Siqueira/Brazil Photos/LightRocket via Getty Images)
SANTUARIO FALLS, PRESIDENTE FIGUEIREDO, AMAZONAS STATE, BRAZIL - 2015/09/09: Santuario Falls ( Cachoeira do Santuario ) in the municipality of Presidente Figueiredo, Amazonas State, Amazon rainforest, Brazil. (Photo by Ricardo Siqueira/Brazil Photos/LightRocket via Getty Images)
ATLANTIC RAINFOREST, BRAZIL - 2015/08/28: Wooly spider monkey, Muriqui or mono-carvoeiro, (Brachyteles arachnoids) the acrobat of the Brazilian forests, the largest primate of the Americas, an endangered species, Atlantic rainforest, Brazil. Former latin name: Brachyteles arachnoids. New latin name: Brachyteles hypoxanthus. Estação Biológica de Caratinga, Fazenda Montes Claros, Minas Gerais State. (Photo by Jose Caldas/Brazil Photos/LightRocket via Getty Images)
ATLANTIC RAINFOREST, BRAZIL - 2015/08/28: Wooly spider monkey, Muriqui or mono-carvoeiro, (Brachyteles arachnoids) the acrobat of the Brazilian forests, the largest primate of the Americas, an endangered species, Atlantic rainforest, Brazil. Former latin name: Brachyteles arachnoids. New latin name: Brachyteles hypoxanthus. Estação Biológica de Caratinga, Fazenda Montes Claros, Minas Gerais State. (Photo by Jose Caldas/Brazil Photos/LightRocket via Getty Images)
BANANAL ISLAND, TOCANTINS STATE, BRAZIL - 2015/07/30: Flooded dense forest by the Javaé River, high biodiversity, Bananal Island, Tocantins State, Amazon, Brazil. (Photo by Jose Caldas/Brazil Photos/LightRocket via Getty Images)
AMAZON, ACRE STATE, BRAZIL - 2015/06/30: Amazon rainforest burning, forest clearance for cattle raising in Acre State, Brazil. (Photo by Ricardo Funari/Brazil Photos/LightRocket via Getty Images)
AMAZON, BRAZIL - 2015/06/24: Thorns at Tucumã palm tree ( Astrocaryum aculeatum ), Amazon rain forest, Brazil - this plant has edible fruit which may be used for production of biodiesel. (Photo by Lena Trindade/Brazil Photos/LightRocket via Getty Images)
RONDONIA STATTE, BRAZIL - 2015/06/24: Rainbow at Mamoré river, Amazon rain forest, Rondonia State, Brazil. (Photo by Lena Trindade/Brazil Photos/LightRocket via Getty Images)
ALTA FLORESTA, MATO GROSSO STATE, BRAZIL - 2015/05/04: Dense tropical forest, canopy trees, aerial view of Amazon rain forest at Alta Floresta, Mato Grosso State, Brazil. (Photo by Lena Trindade/Brazil Photos/LightRocket via Getty Images)
AMAZON, BRAZIL - 2015/03/15: Aerial view of Amazon rain forest, river curves and dense forest with high biodiversity, Brazil. (Photo by Ricardo Funari/Brazil Photos/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Cut logs sit at a sawmill in Anapu, Brazil, on Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014. The rate of deforestation Brazil's Amazon rain forest dropped 18 percent over the last year, according to a report by the country's environment minister in November. Photographer: Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Timber is stacked in piles at a sawmill in Anapu, Brazil, on Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014. The rate of deforestation Brazil's Amazon rain forest dropped 18 percent over the last year, according to a report by the country's environment minister in November. Photographer: Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A section of burnt forest stands in the southern of Amazonian state of Para, near Belo Monte, Brazil on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. The rate of deforestation Brazil's Amazon rain forest dropped 18 percent over the last year, according to a report by the country's environment minister in November. Photographer: Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Cattle graze near a burnt section of rain forest in the southern part of the Amazonian state of Para, near Belo Monte, Brazil, on Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014. The rate of deforestation Brazil's Amazon rain forest dropped 18 percent over the last year, according to a report by the country's environment minister in November. Photographer: Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A tree stump stands in the rain forest in the southern part of the Amazonian state of Para, near Belo Monte, Brazil, on Monday, Dec. 15, 2014. The rate of deforestation Brazil's Amazon rain forest dropped 18 percent over the last year, according to a report by the country's environment minister in November. Photographer: Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg via Getty Images
FILE - In this Sunday, March 2, 2008 file photo, Brazil policemen guard a raft loaded with confiscated logs that were illegally cut from the Amazon rainforest, at the Guama river, in Belem, state of Para, Brazil. Money raised by governments and corporations hasnât managed to halt the destruction of the worldâs rainforests _ an area the size of Greece is lost every year _ so a U.S. campaign is now inviting individuals to chip in. The U.S. Agency for International Development and Code REDD, a California-based advocacy group, on Tuesday Feb. 10, 2015, will announce the launch of an online store for carbon offsets, certificates that fund forest conservation projects in tropical countries. (AP Photo/Renato Chalu, File)
Demonstrators carry signs that read in Portuguese "Without rainforests there's no water," left, "Reforest the watersheds now," center, and "Water" in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014. Sao Paulo is suffering its worst drought in decades. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
FILE - In this Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2008 file photo, charcoal kilns are seen in Tailandia, state of Para, Brazil. Money raised by governments and corporations hasnât managed to halt the destruction of the worldâs rainforests _ an area the size of Greece is lost every year _ so a U.S. campaign is now inviting individuals to chip in. The U.S. Agency for International Development and Code REDD, a California-based advocacy group, on Tuesday Feb. 10, 2015, will announce the launch of an online store for carbon offsets, certificates that fund forest conservation projects in tropical countries. (AP Photo/Renato Chalu, File)
A deforested area is seen near Novo Progresso in the northern state of Para, Brazil, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2009. The Brazilian Amazon is arguably the world's biggest natural defense against global warming, acting as a "sink," or absorber, of carbon dioxide. But it is also a great contributor to warming. About 75 percent of Brazil's emissions come from rainforest clearing, as vegetation burns and felled trees rot. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
An illegal gold mine is seen inside a national park near Novo Progresso in the northern state of Para, Brazil, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2009. The Brazilian Amazon is arguably the world's biggest natural defense against global warming, acting as a "sink," or absorber, of carbon dioxide. But it is also a great contributor to warming. About 75 percent of Brazil's emissions come from rainforest clearing, as vegetation burns and felled trees rot. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Cattle graze in a illegally deforested farm near Novo Progresso in the northern state of Para, Brazil, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2009. The Brazilian Amazon is arguably the world's biggest natural defense against global warming, acting as a "sink," or absorber, of carbon dioxide. But it is also a great contributor to warming. About 75 percent of Brazil's emissions come from rainforest clearing, as vegetation burns and felled trees rot. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Iguazu falls is seen along the border of Brazil with Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2009. The Atlantic Forest, home to the famous Iguazu falls and numerous plant and animal species, is one of the most endangered rainforests in the world. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)
ACRE, BRAZIL - 2014/11/17: Flames and heat, detail of Amazon rainforest burning, environmental degradation caused by deforestation. (Photo by Ricardo Funari/Brazil Photos/LightRocket via Getty Images)
ACRE, BRAZIL - 2014/11/17: Worker carries his chainsaw at sunset after a hard day of labor, Amazon rainforest deforestation. (Photo by Ricardo Funari/Brazil Photos/LightRocket via Getty Images)
ACRE, BRAZIL - 2014/11/17: Aerial view of Amazon rainforest deforestation and farm management for livestock. Photo shows four stages in land management on a big cattle farm in the Amazon: In the foreground, naked clear land where the forest has recently been burned and grass will be grown. On the right, a pasture waiting for the cattle. In the background, the forest being burned to make pasture. On the left, native forest, which will soon enough undergo the same. (Photo by Ricardo Funari/Brazil Photos/LightRocket via Getty Images)
ACRE, BRAZIL - 2014/11/17: Logging, Amazon rainforest clearance, workers cut down a large tree using chainsaw. (Photo by Ricardo Funari/Brazil Photos/LightRocket via Getty Images)
BRAZIL - 2014/11/10: Logging, worker carries his chainsaw at sunset after a hard day of labor, Amazon rainforest deforestation. (Photo by Ricardo Beliel/Brazil Photos/LightRocket via Getty Images)
BRAZIL - 2014/11/10: Amazon rainforest burning, deforestation for livestock. (Photo by Ricardo Beliel/Brazil Photos/LightRocket via Getty Images)
BRAZIL - 2014/11/10: Burned trees in Amazon rainforest, land clearance for livestock. (Photo by Ricardo Beliel/Brazil Photos/LightRocket via Getty Images)
BRAZIL - 2014/11/10: Logging, Amazon rainforest, firewood for charcoal production transported by train for feeding the pig iron industry. (Photo by BrazilPhotos.com/Brazil Photos/LightRocket via Getty Images)
BRAZIL - 2014/11/10: Logging, transportation of tree truncks floating on river water, Amazon rainforest deforestation. (Photo by BrazilPhotos.com/Brazil Photos/LightRocket via Getty Images)
PARA, BRAZIL - 2014/11/10: Transportation of firewood for charcoal production - Amazon rainforest deforestation for feeding the iron pig industry. (Photo by Ricardo Beliel/Brazil Photos/LightRocket via Getty Images)
View of an illegal felling area in the Amazon forest during an overflight by Greenpeace activists over areas of illegal exploitation of timber, as part of the second stage of the "The Amazon's Silent Crisis" report, in the state of Para, Brazil, on October 14, 2014. According to Greenpeace's report, timber trucks carry at night illegally felled trees to sawmills, which then process them and export the wood as if it was from a legal origin to France, Belgium, Sweden and the Netherlands. AFP PHOTO / Raphael Alves (Photo credit should read RAPHAEL ALVES/AFP/Getty Images)
The shadow of Greenpeace's aircraft casts over the trees in the Amazon forest during an overflight by Greenpeace activists over areas of illegal exploitation of timber, as part of the second stage of the 'The Amazon's Silent Crisis' report, in the state of Para, Brazil, on October 14, 2014. According to Greenpeace's report, timber trucks carry at night illegally felled trees to sawmills, which then process them and export the wood as if it was from a legal origin to France, Belgium, Sweden and the Netherlands. AFP PHOTO / Raphael Alves (Photo credit should read RAPHAEL ALVES/AFP/Getty Images)
View of a forest fire in the Amazon forest during an overflight by Greenpeace activists over areas of illegal exploitation of timber, as part of the second stage of the 'The Amazon's Silent Crisis' report, in the state of Para, Brazil, on October 14, 2014. According to Greenpeace's report, timber trucks carry at night illegally felled trees to sawmills, which then process them and export the wood as if it was from a legal origin to France, Belgium, Sweden and the Netherlands. AFP PHOTO / Raphael Alves (Photo credit should read RAPHAEL ALVES/AFP/Getty Images)
View of the so called Odami sawmill during an overflight by Greenpeace activists over areas of illegal exploitation of timber, as part of the second stage of the 'The Amazon's Silent Crisis' report, in the state of Para, Brazil, on October 14, 2014. According to Greenpeace's report, timber trucks carry at night illegally felled trees to sawmills, which then process them and export the wood as if it was from a legal origin to France, Belgium, Sweden and the Netherlands. AFP PHOTO / Raphael Alves (Photo credit should read RAPHAEL ALVES/AFP/Getty Images)
View of a tree in a deforested area in the middle of the Amazon jungle during an overflight by Greenpeace activists over areas of illegal exploitation of timber, as part of the second stage of the 'The Amazon's Silent Crisis' report, in the state of Para, Brazil, on October 14, 2014. According to Greenpeace's report, timber trucks carry at night illegally felled trees to sawmills, which then process them and export the wood as if it was from a legal origin to France, Belgium, Sweden and the Netherlands. AFP PHOTO / Raphael Alves (Photo credit should read RAPHAEL ALVES/AFP/Getty Images)
View of a deforested area in the middle of the Amazon jungle during an overflight by Greenpeace activists over areas of illegal exploitation of timber, as part of the second stage of the 'The Amazon's Silent Crisis' report, in the state of Para, Brazil, on October 14, 2014. According to Greenpeace's report, timber trucks carry at night illegally felled trees to sawmills, which then process them and export the wood as if it was from a legal origin to France, Belgium, Sweden and the Netherlands. AFP PHOTO / Raphael Alves (Photo credit should read RAPHAEL ALVES/AFP/Getty Images)
View of a forest fire in the Amazon forest during an overflight by Greenpeace activists over areas of illegal exploitation of timber, as part of the second stage of the 'The Amazon's Silent Crisis' report, in the state of Para, Brazil, on October 14, 2014. According to Greenpeace's report, timber trucks carry at night illegally felled trees to sawmills, which then process them and export the wood as if it was from a legal origin to France, Belgium, Sweden and the Netherlands. AFP PHOTO / Raphael Alves (Photo credit should read RAPHAEL ALVES/AFP/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - SEPTEMBER 21: Particpants walk in the climate march along Ipanema beach on September 21, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Protests calling for curbs in greenhouse gas emissions were scheduled for today in 150 countries ahead a U.N. summit on climate change. The Amazon rainforest, mostly located in Brazil, produces about 20 percent of the earth's oxygen but is threatened by deforestation. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - SEPTEMBER 21: Participants chant and sing during the climate march along Ipanema beach on September 21, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Protests calling for curbs in greenhouse gas emissions were scheduled for today in 150 countries ahead a U.N. summit on climate change. The Amazon rainforest, mostly located in Brazil, produces about 20 percent of the earth's oxygen but is threatened by deforestation. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - SEPTEMBER 21: Particpants walk in the climate march along Ipanema beach on September 21, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Protests calling for curbs in greenhouse gas emissions were scheduled for today in 150 countries ahead a U.N. summit on climate change. The Amazon rainforest, mostly located in Brazil, produces about 20 percent of the earth's oxygen but is threatened by deforestation. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - SEPTEMBER 21: A man holds a flag with a green heart during the climate march along Ipanema beach on September 21, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Protests calling for curbs in greenhouse gas emissions were scheduled for today in 150 countries ahead a U.N. summit on climate change. The Amazon rainforest, mostly located in Brazil, produces about 20 percent of the earth's oxygen but is threatened by deforestation. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
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