Google’s ‘Project Sunroof’ wants every house to have a solar roof

Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity, either directly using photovoltaics (PV), or indirectly using concentrated solar power (CSP). Concentrated solar power systems use lenses or mirrors and tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a small beam. Photovoltaics convert light into an electric current using the photovoltaic effect.

To set up a solar-power system in one’s home is a fairly complex task. Before installing solar panels, one has to look into many factors, such as cost of setting up solar-power system, number of systems required, and that the amount that would be saved over a period of time. In addition, the most important factor is whether the house gets enough sunlight to make solar power a feasible option in the first place.

The world’s most popular search engine, Google receives a zillion number of queries related to solar-power on a daily basis. In an effort to make things more simpler and help homeowners decide if making the switch to solar is an economically smart decision, the company has decided to build a online tool called “Project Sunroof” that leverages Google Maps data to answer all of your complex solar energy questions in one place. It would take a good look at your roof, and tell you if it is worth investing in the solar energy panels.

Here’s how it works. Google has been accumulating satellite pictures of every property in the world over the years. These images contains valuable information such as the total area of your roof and how much sunlight it gets over the course of a normal day. Basically, Project Sunroof takes this data and makes it easier to understand. All you need to do is just enter your address, and the program will calculate how much usable solar energy your house could generate if it were supplied with X number of solar panels.

Additionally, Google also roughly knows how much energy would cost in your area, and can use that information to roughly calculate how much you could most likely save by installing solar panels. It even breaks down financial plans and provides links to local solar providers in your area.

Google engineer Carl Elkin said that the effort aims to succeed in dealing with consumer concerns and boost the use of green energy that reduces carbon emissions.

“The cost of solar power is at a record low,” he said. “A typical solar home can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year on their electricity bill.

“But, as a volunteer with the Boston-based solar program Solarize Massachusetts and a solar homeowner myself, I’ve always been surprised at how many people I encounter who think that ‘my roof isn’t sunny enough for solar,’ or ‘solar is just too expensive.’”

Currently, Project Sunroof is available in the area around San Francisco and Fresno in California and around Boston, Massachusetts. Google also hopes to expand the project to additional regions.

Commenting on that Elkin said, “While Project Sunroof is in a pilot phase for now, during the coming months we’ll be exploring how to make the tool better and more widely available. If you find that your address isn’t covered by the tool yet, you can leave your email address and we’ll let you know when Project Sunroof is ready for your rooftop!”