Environment

Project Sunroof calculates rooftop solar potential using Google Maps

Project Sunroof calculates roo...
Project Sunroof uses data from Google Maps to offer a personalized analysis of a roof's solar potential
Project Sunroof uses data from Google Maps to offer a personalized analysis of a roof's solar potential
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Project Sunroof uses data from Google Maps to offer a personalized analysis of a roof's solar potential
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Project Sunroof uses data from Google Maps to offer a personalized analysis of a roof's solar potential
Calculations are produced for different scenarios, such as leasing solar panels, taking out a loan to pay for them or buying them outright
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Calculations are produced for different scenarios, such as leasing solar panels, taking out a loan to pay for them or buying them outright

Ever balked at installing solar panels on your roof because it's pretty damn expensive or you're not sure how much power it would actually generate, or a combination of both? Well, a new venture from Google is aimed at taking the guesswork out of weaning your household off the grid. Powered by Google Maps, Project Sunroof can tell users how much sun is hitting their roof and how much they might be able to shave off their power bills.

According to Google, it already has access to all the information needed to create detailed maps of your rooftop's candidacy for solar harvesting. It combines Google Maps' extensive database of aerial images with 3D modeling of the roof, taking into account shade offered by nearby objects likes trees, possible sun positions and cloud and temperature patterns in the area.

This results in a customized analysis of your roof's solar potential. Project Sunroof then tells you how many hours of usable sunlight your roof is exposed to, how much of that is available for placing solar panels and the savings in store if you decide to go ahead.

Calculations are produced for different scenarios, such as leasing solar panels, taking out a loan to pay for them or buying them outright
Calculations are produced for different scenarios, such as leasing solar panels, taking out a loan to pay for them or buying them outright

Figures are offered up for different scenarios, such as leasing solar panels, taking out a loan to pay for them or buying them outright. Google says the figures are based on current solar industry pricing and consider federal and state tax credits, utility rebates, renewable energy credits and net metering. If the numbers are looking good, Google also offers up the contact details of local solar providers to get the ball rolling.

To begin with, Google has only introduced the service to residents of Boston, San Francisco Bay Area and Fresno. It says soon it will grow to cover the entire US and afterwards, the whole globe.

The video below provides a quick overview of Project Sunroof.

Source: Google

Introducing Project Sunroof

4 comments
Simone
Looks like a great initiative but it replicates work already out there, sites that are more comprehensive, such as Sunmetrix (http://sunmetrix.com/go), a tool we built that truly allows the homeowner to test drive solar energy for their home before buying panels. And Sunmetrix GO is already set up to help homeowners anywhere in North America. With a test drive, homeowners can see what would have happened last week, last month, hour by hour, instead of just getting a single number. (It's a bit like telling people to plan for winter with a single average temperature, like 45F, without letting them know that some days it dips as low 15F).
christopher
They should do a project sandbox to go with this, so we know where to put our heads. Shh, nobody look at the elephant: yes: we can make a difference!! (no, it will never be noticed).
TimothyBailey
When will this mob actually be able to advise Australian consumers? Not currently it seems?
pauldroege
It's good to see Google directing their attention toward this problem. This should help make solar a bit more accessible for those who have an appropriate roof and the means to get it done. It addresses part of the problem holding us back from a renewable powered world, but solar for all the suburbs doesn't really get the job done either. We need more innovations to take solar beyond the suburbs too. The article illustrates an interesting but counterintuitive twist about making solar more accessible: Doing so often requires making it a bit more expensive overall. The lease illustrated in the article adds substantially to the cost of going solar, but leases make solar more accessible for lots of people who otherwise couldn't go solar. Innovations like those introduced by Solar City and their brethren are good and beneficial, even though they add cost to what might be theoretically optimal. How else can we exploit this insight to open the market even wider? To crack the renewable-energy-for-all nut, we need even more creative ways to reach the masses. Getting everyone off the sideline and into the game is the key, and Google joining in can only be seen as a good thing, even if it's just a small (and possibly redundant) nudge.