Launch of Google Sunroof Brings Valuable Solar Power Data to the Mainstream

Launch of Google Sunroof Brings Valuable Solar Power Data to the Mainstream

Google is in the unique position to truly understand what people want. As millions key in their questions, the search giant is actively working to provide better answers. When it comes to questions about solar energy, Google wondered, “If people are lost trying to get answers about solar, why don’t we give them a map?” And so, the tech company announced the beta launch of Project Sunroof: a tool “to make installing solar panels easy and understandable for anyone.”

In a post on Google’s Green Blog, engineer Carl Elkin addressed common misconceptions about the viability of solar energy for the average owner by saying “many of them are missing out on a chance to save money and be green.” Sunroof hopes to be the answer that gives people clear, easy to understand answers.

© Google | Project Sunroof

Using information from Google Maps, Sunroof shows how much sunlight falls on a roof. Similar to the model announced in 2013 by Mapdwell, the calculation also takes into account things like historical local weather patterns, the roof’s orientation, and the shadows cast by nearby structures and trees. By adding information about your current electricity bill, Sunroof is also able to show projected savings -- and even goes a step further by quoting local installers available in the area in which you searched. The service is currently available for homeowners in Boston, Fresno & San Francisco.

But if you’re looking for proof of concept on Google’s new venture, look no further than MapDwell, an award-winning, MIT-born service, which can allow homeowners outside of Project Sunroof’s current coverage areas for a similar service. As we wrote when the project launched two years ago, MapDwell pioneered the idea of using solar maps and open education to achieve community-level informed decision-making. And while Google tests Sunroof in its three pioneering cities, MapDwell has today announced the expansion of the service into New York City’s Five Boroughs. This tremendous project covers over 1 million buildings and reveals enough high-yield photovoltaic potential to deliver over 13 million megawatt-hours of energy per year.

“This is over $40 billion in local business that could provide enough clean, renewable energy to 1.2 million American homes while offsetting carbon emissions equivalent to planting over 185 million trees”, explained Eduardo Berlin, CEO at Mapdwell. “Market conditions today include lowered hardware costs, tax credits, and incentive programs that make New York a hot solar market. Mapdwell wants to help New Yorkers work with the sun”, Berlin continued.

Cambridge, Massachusetts. Left: Mapdwell. Right: Google Sunroof
Boston, Massachusetts. Left: Mapdwell. Right: Google Sunroof

Mapdwell --who has partnered with a number of important organizations-- is currently available in the following markets:

UPDATE: This article was updated on 8/25/2015. A previous version of this press release had incorrect numbers for high-yield installed capacity, electricity output, and related metrics, as it was referring to the solar potential of partial boroughs instead of the entire City. It has been since corrected to reflect the correct figures.

About this author
Cite: Becky Quintal. "Launch of Google Sunroof Brings Valuable Solar Power Data to the Mainstream" 21 Aug 2015. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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