Back in August, Google launched a solar panel information service called "Project Sunroof." The idea behind Project Sunroof was that Google's mapping data, reworked by utilizing the Google Cloud computing system, could be used to help customers determine if it was worth their while installing solar panels onto their roofs, where the cost can easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars. The service uses Google Maps data, information regarding lighting and shade plus historical weather data to provide homeowners with extrapolated benefit projections from installing solar panels. It's a complicated question to answer and as as buildings are unique in terms of size, shape, alignment and of course other objects around them: installing expensive solar panels that do not pay their way could be a potentially costly mistake for a homeowner. When launched, the service was only available for the San Fransisco Bay, Fresno and Boston areas. Google today announced they have increased the supported area for Project Sunroof to now cover urban areas in the nine most solar active states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York and North Carolina.
Google's blog on the subject explains that as the COP21 conference concludes today, Friday, so the Project Sunroof website is being expanded. The website goes on to explain that the service uses high resolution imagery and collected information (detailed above). This information is used to compute a solar score, showing how suitable a particular rooftop would be for a solar panel installation. Users can then provide the current average electrical costs and the website then calculates a projected cost saving should you decide to go ahead and have solar panels installed. This will allow potential solar panel customers to decide if it would be worth their while having the equipment installed and how long it would take for the initial cost to be repaid.
Google's blog also details that a new solar panel system is installed every two and a half minutes in North America, but that there is "tremendous untapped potential." Currently, under 0.5% of North America's electricity is generated from solar power. Home solar panel installations are set to rise: the U.S. Solar Market Insight Report released by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association projects that by the end of 2016, cumulative solar panel installations are poised to almost double. Google is hoping that their new website tool will help more homeowners determine if it's worth their while installing solar panels.