Google seems to be getting everything right; they just can’t help it. The company has been responsible for some very novel and exciting inventions like Google Glass, Google Maps, the Google self-driving car, online language translation, and so much more. Their inventions cover almost all fields, and now, they are contributing their expertise in the renewable energy sector by launching an online service that quickly computes the cost of going solar and whether one should buy or consider leasing photovoltaic panels that can cost quite a bit. The service was expanded in December to be able to analyze properties in the Raleigh area and a dozen other metro areas in Nevada, Arizona, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Colorado (it was initially launched in the Bay area, Fresno, and greater Boston in August).
The new service, dubbed Project Sunroof, works in a rather interesting way. The service combines Google’s high-resolution aerial imagery that powers its online maps with computations on how much shade trees cast over a rooftop, data on local weather patterns, industry pricing, and available subsidies to make an intelligent choice.
Project Sunroof is online and free. All one needs to do is enter the street address of their homes and the tool will be able to do see how much visible sunlight is in contact with their roof every day and for the rest of the year. It requests the user’s average electricity bill and recommends a solar energy system that could deliver 95 percent of the user’s electricity needs. It then calculates the initial cost of the solar system and the annual savings the plan will gain the user, depending on whether they leased solar equipment, took a loan, or outright bought the system. Once this analysis is done, the user can then opt to proceed using the information to one or more solar installers with an understanding that the chosen installer would give more information and talk in detail about the size, cost, and other relevant considerations.
“We at Google believe in solar energy. The solar industry needs our help,” said Carl Elkin, the software engineer who created the new tool. Carl is also a self-baptized “proud solar geek.” He stated that he came to learn that many people preferred going solar but wrongly thought it to be an expensive undertaking, and he was thus motivated to develop this intelligent tool.
Google seems to be focused on renewable energy, in particular, solar energy. The tech giant has in recent years invested a whopping $1 billion in solar energy-related projects with about a third of that money going to fund residential rooftop projects installed by Solar City Corp.
The Google kit is a better and simpler option to paying for a professional site evaluator or using the more complex calculator offered by the U.S. Energy Department. With solar energy accounting for only 1 percent of the country’s total electricity generation, this new tool might see more people adopting solar energy, as they can quickly assess how much they can save by doing so. This initiative will hopefully contribute towards a greener planet.