Google’s Project Sunroof Uses Maps To Calculate Solar Panel Savings

Google’s tool analyses rooftops, then recommends solar panel providers who have paid to feature on Project Sunroof

Google has launched a tool that lets users calculate how much solar energy can be generated from a rooftop of their choice.

The initiative, called Project Sunroof, uses Google Maps to model how much sunlight will hit a given property, and also estimates how much space there is for solar panels, the projected cost savings, and whether the solar panels would be best leased, bought with a loan, or bought outright.

It’s not just the environment Google has in mind here. The search giant has hooked up with solar panel companies such as Sunpower and Sun Edison, directing users to these firms, who have no doubt paid to be partners.

Global ambitions?

Project Sunroof is currently only available in Boston and in the San Francisco Bay area in California. However, there are plans to roll the service out to other US cities and possibly globally within the next few years.

“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,” said Google. “We want to make installing solar panels easy and understandable for anyone.”

TechWeekEurope used the tool on one of my favourite San Francisco hangouts, The White Horse tavern just off Union Square (it’s like a home away from home, try it). According to Project Sunroof, the roof of the bar gets 1,590 hours of sunlight per year, with 3,841 square feet of space available for solar panels.


As you can see with the yellow hues, the 3D modelling predicts how much sunlight hits certain spots of rooftops, with purple areas being mostly in the shade and the whiter areas getting almost all-day glorious sunshine.

“Google has always been a big believer in zero-carbon energy, and solar power has been a central part of that vision — from accelerating the growth of rooftop solar, to helping finance the largest solar farm in Africa, to building one of America’s biggest campus solar arrays here in Mountain View,” said Google’s engineering head for Project Sunroof, Carl Elkin.

“While Project Sunroof is in a pilot phase for now, during the coming months we’ll be exploring how to make the tool better and more widely available.”


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