Power to the city: Assessing the rooftop solar photovoltaic potential in multiple cities of Ecuador

Mariela Tapia*, Leonard Ramos, Detlev Heinemann, Edwin Zondervan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Solar energy plays a crucial role in helping cities to decentralize energy production and thus decarbonize the energy mix. Reliable resource assessments are needed to support the deployment of solar power systems, especially in cities of developing countries where large solar potential remains untapped. The aim of this work is to assess the potential of rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) in three populated cities in Ecuador's mainland (Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca) and in the Galapagos Islands. The assessment involves (i) the estimation of the available rooftop area based on geographic information system data, (ii) the calculation of energy yield based on hourly satellite-derived irradiance and meteorological data, and (iii) the economic feasibility assessment in terms of levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) compared to representative electricity tariffs. In addition, a sensitivity analysis is carried out to assess the variability of the estimated technical and economic potential with respect to changes in the input parameters. The results reveal a total available rooftop area of about 144 km2, mainly concentrated in urban parishes. The estimated energy yield is 16.94 ± 3.38 TWh/a, which could cover almost twice the annual energy consumption in 2019 of the study areas. The economic assessment shows that the LCOE ranges between 7.65 and 21.12 USD cents/kWh. However, the comparison of LCOE against representative residential tariff suggests that rooftop PV technology is not cost-competitive under most of the financial scenarios. The findings from this study will be of interest for local authorities and other decision makers to design policies and financing strategies to increase the penetration of rooftop PV and thus exploiting the large potential assessed in the study areas. The described methodology can be used for assessing the potential in other regions of Ecuador and thereby support the diversification and decarbonization of the energy mix in the country.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2285-2319
Number of pages35
JournalPhysical Sciences Reviews
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2023


  • NLA
  • geographic information systems
  • resource assessment
  • rooftop photovoltaic potential
  • urban solar potential
  • Ecuador


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