Now that we’re accustomed to Google mapping our streets, our transit systems, our buildings, and even our natural world, the tech giant is offering yet another way to put its extensive database of aerial imagery and maps to work for us, but this time focused on renewable energy – rooftop solar energy production, to be precise.
The new Google Project Sunroof, just launched as a beta version today, aims to “make installing solar panels easy and understandable for anyone,” by offering up a free analysis of the solar energy potential available to homeowners, based on their roofs. By entering the street address of their home on the platform, users of Project Sunroof will be able to see how much usable sunlight hits their roof each day and throughout the year, which should enable them to make the best solar decision possible.
Google uses its own sophisticated software to virtually build a 3D model of the roof for accurate results, and the resulting analysis takes into account the data from aerial imagery and other maps, figuring in the impact of any shadows cast onto the roof by nearby trees or structures, the relative position and angle of the sun throughout the year, and historical patterns of clouds and temperatures that could affect the production of solar energy in that location.
Project Sunroof then acts similar to other solar information portals in requesting information from the user about their average electric bill, and delivers a recommendation for a solar energy system that could deliver about 95% of the user’s electricity demand (although with the constraint that it would physically fit on the available roof area). The analysis also calculates the upfront cost of the solar array, and the net annual and overall savings that the recommended size of a solar array could save the user, depending on whether they lease, take out a loan, or buy the solar system outright.
Once the user has received their initial analysis from Project Sunroof, they can opt to forward the info to one or more local solar installers, with the understanding that the installers would follow up with more information and talk details about system cost, size, and other considerations.
Google’s Project Sunroof is currently only available for addresses in the San Francisco Bay Area, Fresno (CA) and the Greater Boston area, in Massachusetts, but is planned for rollout to other areas in the near future. If you’d like to be informed when Project Sunroof is available in your area, you can sign up to be notified (enter your address first, then the signup form will appear).
August 17, 2015
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