In a video posted to YouTube today, soon to be Alphabet subsidiary, Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG, GOOGL), announced the launch of a new service called Project Sunroof that aims to inform home and business owners of the potential of installing solar panels on their roofs.
Using information already possessed by Google Maps, the Sunroof team decided to calculate how much energy could be generated, how many solar panels would be needed and associated costs, for every house in the area the Sunroof service is offered. Then, Google combines this information with information about local solar system installers and gives Sunroof users the ability to pick a system customized specifically for their home or business.
Currently, Sunroof is only available in the San Francisco, Fresno, and Greater Boston areas. Google reports that plans to make Project Sunroof available across the United States, and possibly worldwide, are in place.
It turns out that some locations are more suited to generating electricity with solar power than others: some buildings simply don’t receive enough sunlight. The amount of energy that can be generated by smaller roofs may be seen as insufficient for a given need.
Google Sunroof allows homeowners to answer these questions before investing the time and capital necessary.
When calculating the amount of potential energy that may be generated, Project Sunroof considers aerial imagery, Google 3D-modelling of roofs, shadows cast by other buildings, and vegetation, as well as all possible positions of the sun through the year and historical weather patterns.
The Google Sunroof service also takes into consideration the amount of electricity that is forecast to be consumed and recommends a system just large enough to provide for that. Producing more electricity than is consumed results in waste and unnecessary costs in most areas.
As well as designing a solar generating system that is optimized to produce just the right amount of electricity, Project Sunroof also factors utility rebates and state and federal tax credits, as well as net metering and renewable energy credits.
Google has stated that they launched Project Sundown because of its growing popularity among homeowners.
“As the price of installing solar has gotten less expensive, more homeowners are turning to it as a possible option for decreasing their energy bill. We want to make installing solar panels easy and understandable for anyone.”
“Project Sunroof puts Google’s expansive data in mapping and computing resources to use, helping calculate the best solar plan for you.”
[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images – Screenshot from Project Sunroof]