Electricity is something people could likely never live without – it powers your everyday lives from the smallest of smartphones to skyscrapers to entire hospitals and all of their equipment. There are many ways to ensure that you have enough power, but picking the best way to ensure your supply of electricity is not always the cheapest way and picking the cheapest way is not always the cleanest form of energy. In 2015, about 67-percent of our 4 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity produced in the US came from fossil fuels – 33-percent came from coal, 33-percent from natural gas, and less than 1-percent from petroleum. Nuclear power generated about 20-percent of our electricity and only about 13-percent came from renewable energy sources, such as hydro power, wind power, biomass material, geothermal power, and only about 1-percent came from solar power.
Google's Project Sunroof is on a mission to change all of that by pushing the advantages of clean, abundant, and low carbon sourced unlimited power from the sun. Many people have thought about solar panels on their rooftops, but at one time it was very expensive. However, as businesses and homeowners are starting to adopt the use of solar panels, the pricing is starting to come down – not to mention the attractive tax credits. The second problem arises when you consider where your home is located and if it is a good candidate for solar panels. This is another place that Project Sunroof can help you with your decision. If you go to the Project Sunroof website, you can punch in your zip code, and all of the pertinent statics for your area will pop up to help you determine if your area is suitable for solar power. Project Sunroof uses Google Maps, Google Earth, 3D modeling, and machine learning to help answer your questions. It can calculate the amount of sunlight over your area during the year to determine if your location would be cost effective to switching over to solar panels.
Google's Project Sunroof will tell you that 79-percent of all rooftops in the US could benefit from solar panels – in other words, there is enough sunlight hitting the roofs during the day that homeowners would benefit from their use. There is a range of sunlight depending on what state you live in with Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada, and Mew Mexico reaching a 90-percent usage rate while homes in states such as Pennsylvania, Maine, and Minnesota only reach a 60-percent level. If you look at the graph below, you will see they break it down into cities as well, with Houston Texas showing the most potential for solar use. What is so fascinating is the power of the sunlight. The average US home uses 10,812 kilowatt-hours (kWh) a year and one million kWh is in one gigawatt-hour (GWh). This ratio means that one GWh is enough to power 90 homes for an entire year. Houston could produce 18,940 GWh per year, and after doing the math, that means the city could provide enough power for over 1.7 million homes for the entire year – power that is both clean and renewable.