Prof AbuBakr BAHAJ

Prof AbuBakr BAHAJ

Energy and Climate Change Division, University of Southampton, Southampton, United kingdom

Solarising Southampton: Deploying Solar Photovoltaics at City Scale

Currently more than 50% of the world’s population lives in cities and this is projected to rise to 60% by 2030. This means that an additional 1.4 billion people will also be living in cities by this date. An increasing number of the world’s population is migrating to cities to take advantage of concentrated economic activities and perceived prosperity. Meeting the needs of this changing demographic will be challenging for cities, their planners as well as both local and national authorities. Cities impose closer living and working conditions and provide inhabitants optimised infrastructure that supports liveability, productivity and drive long term economic growth. It is this infrastructure that is identified here to provide opportunities for city-wide electricity generation at scale. In this work we restrict our consideration to the use of underutilised building surfaces that are appropriate for the deployment and integration of solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays within such surfaces. The power generation from such PV arrays can be used locally or transmitted to the national grid. One major advantage of using such infrastructure in that it avoids land use and hence its associated costs.


The analysis and modelling presented here shows how city-wide PV deployment can be achieved and provides an efficient and accurate methodology that estimates the solar radiation to the nearest square metre within a city The City of Southampton, UK which has over 30000 buildings was used as an initial case study. The outcome is a realistic capacity and energy yield estimates in the context of spatially dense building areas such as those encountered in cities. Our analysis indicates that Southampton City can annually produce over 25% of its electricity from PV. Economic consideration linked to the UK’s feed tariff and implication to investment is also discussed in the paper. 


AbuBakr Bahaj leads the 55-strong Energy and Climate Change Division at the University of Southampton, where he completed his PhD, progressing from a researcher to a Personal Chair in Sustainable Energy.  For more than 25 years, Professor Bahaj has pioneered sustainable energy research and established the energy theme within the University. His major research programmes can be found at His work has resulted in over 270 articles, and founded the International Journal of Marine Energy (IJOME) which he is the Editor-in-Chief. In 2012, Prof Bahaj was appointed Chief Scientific Advisor to Southampton City Council—believed to be the first such appointment in the UK and in 2014, the UK’s Science Council named him as one of the UK’s 100 leading practising scientists. In 2014 Prof Bahaj was appointed to King Salman ben Abdulaziz Chair for Energy Research at the King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia