Thursday, September 3, 2015

Is your roof suitable for PV? Just google it.

Article Parished on the 21st of august 2015

One of the engineers at Google has a PV system on his roof. A lot of his friends and acquaintances always told him that they certainly couldn’t install a PV system on their roof because their place was not sunny enough. If you are already working for Google, the idea presents itself to use its own services and start a new project which turns Google Maps into a big solar land registry.
Thus “Project Sunroof” was born. This webpage lets users enter their address and uses a combination of Google’s mapping data and solar irradiation data to calculate how sunny their roof actually is. More specific, Google wants to show how many sunshine hours per year a house gets and even provide an estimate as to how much money the homeowners could save by installing a PV system. 

Potentially, everything could be a business model

For these calculations, the orientation of the roof in question, shade by trees and nearby buildings and even the weather patterns of the location will be taken into consideration. Additionally, users can enter a mean value for their electricity bill to further personalise the calculation of potential savings.
Now, Google wouldn’t be Google if it did not think of including search results in this new service. People who own a sunny roof could get forwarded to an installation technician from their area. That companies might be willing to pay for being listed further up would probably be far from inconvenient for Google.

Today Fresno, tomorrow the world

So far, the project is still in its early phases and the “sunniness” of their own roof can only be analysed by citizens of Boston, the San Francisco Bay area and Fresno. Why those cities? This is also mentioned (in a likeable way) in the info video about the project: The Sunroof Project Team comes from Boston, Google has its headquarters in Mountain View in the SF Bay Area and in Fresno, well, apparently, one of the engineers’ mother is living there.
If the prediction of the announcement video turns out to be correct, the service might be available all over the U.S. rather soon. Maybe even worldwide, but that probably depends on the realisation and the success of the new project. The link to Project Sunroof unfortunately does not work from Germany (where Sun & Wind Energy is based) but if you are somewhere else, feel free to check it out: is external)

A nudge for the PV sector

It is unclear how exactly the search giant wants to factor in things such as a roof’s inclination, different amounts of shade at different times during the day or whether this is even planned at all. The accuracy/precision of Sunroof might leave room for improvements. The underlying idea is nevertheless a good one. Since, even if the project does not deliver the most exact data ever, at least the PV industry might profit from two big things: simplicity and awareness. Google is one of the best known brands worldwide. If such a company supports solar energy, this can only increase the amount of people asking themselves: “Why don’t I have a PV system on my roof?” And if they can answer this with a comfortable: “I’ll just sunroof this quickly!” and find out how well their roof is suited for a PV system: So much better!
Why not do the same with water ponds? Floating solar system are already viable and economical alternative to rooftops systems. Check Ciel et Terre Solution