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Google’s ‘Project Sunroof’ Calculates the Cost of Solar

Google is testing a new online tool to help homeowners explore whether they should go solar, according to a recent blog post by the search giant.

Now available in the San Francisco Bay Area, Fresno and the Boston area, Project Sunroof utilizes the same high-resolution aerial mapping used by Google Earth to help homeowners calculate their roof’s solar energy potential, right from their laptop or smartphone.

Homeowners within the test regions need only to enter their address and Project Sunroof will crunch the numbers, Google said in the post. The tool first figures out how much sunlight hits the rooftop throughout the year, taking into account factors such as roof orientation, shade from trees and nearby buildings, and local weather patterns.

To further customize the results, users can enter their typical electric bill amount. The tool aggregates all of the information to estimate the amount that could potentially be saved with solar panels, and help connect homeowners with local solar providers.

Although Project Sunroof currently is in a pilot phase, Google said in the coming months it will be exploring how to make the tool better and more widely available.

In 2011, Google abandoned a high-profile project to produce renewable energy at a cost cheaper than coal. The project was one of seven diverse initiatives shelved by the company, and one of several dozen jettisoned after co-founder Larry Page took over as Chief Executive.

Solar is on the upswing nationwide. A recent report by the Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) Institute found that renewable energy and energy efficiency are competitive resources in today’s marketplace that will not only be cost-effective mechanisms for compliance with EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) but should also be expected to grow strictly on the basis of cost.


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