Google is trying to take over America's rooftops (with solar panels)

A new tool uses Google Maps to calculate if rooftop solar is right for you

By Lindsay Abrams

Published August 17, 2015 5:51PM (EDT)

  (Screenshot, Google)
(Screenshot, Google)

Is cheap, clean energy harnessed from the sun and applied straight to your electricity bill right for you?

Now, you can Google it to find out.

Google's newest tool, Project Sunroof, combines the company's aerial mapping technology with weather data to users to calculate just how much they'd benefit from investing in solar -- and, ideally, to get them started on creating their own solar-powered dream homes. After receiving a custom recommendation for a solar installation size that could cover close to 100 percent of their energy needs and reviewing a simple break-down of different options for how to finance it, users who like what they see can also find information about local solar providers who can actually come and set the whole thing up.

"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,'" wrote Carl Elkin, the project's engineering lead, in a blog post. "Certainly many of them are missing out on a chance to save money and be green."

Here's the pitch, via a charming animation released today by Google:

Project Sunroof's currently in its pilot phase, and only has information, for now, for Boston, San Francisco and Fresno, California. (But "pretty soon," the video informs us, "it will grow to include the entire country, and maybe even the whole world.")

Using the tool, it was easy enough to determine that Salon's San Francisco office receives 1,697 hours of usable sunlight each year, and that it has 19,591 square feet of rooftop just begging to be covered in solar panels. The total savings, for our West Coast employees and their office-mates, could translate to as much as $13,000 over a 20-year period. The best candidates for rooftop solar own their homes -- but armed with this data, it might be a good idea to start asking questions.

Lindsay Abrams

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Google Renewable Energy Rooftop Solar Solar Energy Solar Panels