Google’s stated mission is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. At first this mostly meant cataloguing and ranking search pages for search, but for many years now Google has ventured into the physical world with projects like Google Maps and Google Books. The latest project to come out of the Mountain View company is Project Sunroof, a website that aims to make it easier for homeowners to figure out if they should go solar, and if so, what the costs and benefits will be.
Project Sunroof takes a similar approach to what other solar installers have been doing by using aerial imagery combined with clever software to give a pretty good estimate of how much solar radiation is falling on a particular roof, how big a solar array you would need to generate as close to possible to 100% of your needs, and how much clean power would be produced on an average year based on multiple factors, which then feeds into financial calculations based on local electricity rates.
Here’s some of what goes into figuring out how ideal your roof is for solar power:
Project Sunroof computes how much sunlight hits your roof in a year. It takes into account:
- Google’s database of aerial imagery and maps
- 3D modeling of your roof
- Shadows cast by nearby structures and trees
- All possible sun positions over the course of a year
- Historical cloud and temperature patterns that might affect solar energy production