Google Launches Project Sunroof Tool In UK

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Teams up with E.ON for tool to work out cost savings for individual roof structures fitted with solar panels

Google has teamed up with energy provider E.ON to launch its Project Sunroof online tool in the United Kingdom.

The tool assists homeowners work out if its worth them installing solar panels, by inputting detailed analysis on Google’s “Solar Calculator”. Google is also working with German software firm Tetraeder on the project.

This tool (found here) estimates uses Google Maps to model how much sunlight will hit a given property, and also estimates how much space there is for solar panels, and the projected cost savings. The tool was initially launched in the United States back in 2015.

Solar tool

Essentially, customers have to enter their exact address details, as well as other other data such as roof area, pitch (angle) etc.

Customers also have to enter thier contact details, so expect a follow up sales call.

The tool then uses machine learning to estimate how much solar potential a house has by examining the property’s features and weather data, such as sun positioning.

The tool is not unique, as other firms also have similar tools such as Ikea (in collaboration with Solarcentury), and Tesla’s own Solar Roof Calculator.

It should be remembered that the UK as a country is not ideally suited to solar as initial cost of installing solar panels can still be fairly high (typically between £4,000-£6,000 for an 3kW unit to power a family home), and the fact that the UK generally tends to suffer from a great deal of cloud cover (which means that solar panels don’t tend to work quite as well as in full sunshine).

Solar panels also do not produce constant electricity and only provide a house with electricity during daylight hours – unless an expensive home battery, such as the Telsa Powerwall (costing at least £5,500), is utilised.

Green backer

But Google, which is based in the much sunnier climate of California, is a big backer of solar energy.

For example in 2015 it invested $300m (£195m) in a $750m (£486m) SolarCity fund to finance the installation of solar panels onto the roof’s of residential properties.

Besides residential roofs, Google has also invested heavily in solar farms across the world including a solar photovoltaic power plant in Germany, as well a solar energy plant in California’s Mojave Desert.

In 2017 Google revealed that its global operations were powered using only renewable energy sources.

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