Google engineer Carl Elkin during his free time began attempting to improve / apply whether the company’s 3-D mapping program could identify the rooftops that receive sufficient sunlight so as the installation of rooftop solar panels would be worthwhile. And was successful in finding a technique for mapping the planet’s solar potential, one roof at a time. Soon after this, a team led by Carl Elkin designed Google’s Project Sunroof, which uses Google Earth’s images and calculates the roof’s potential for solar energy. Initially, Project Sunroof was launched in the cities of Boston, San Francisco, and Fresno. The project is aimed eventually to expand nationally or even globally.
This project was launched with a primary aim to encourage the adoption of solar energy by providing a set of tools to facilitate the purchase and installation of solar panels to the private / residential / small enterprises and not for the larger commercial installations / large solar power plants. Project Sunroof uses data from Google maps and Google Earth’s aerial images to see the effect of shadows from nearby structures and trees and also takes into account the historical weather and temperature patterns in the subject area under study. Thus, the Project Sunroof website calculates how much money a user can expect to save yearly by making use of solar power and hence, in turn, visualising the viability of the investment required.
Google’s Project Sunroof website offers very good support to the homeowners in making the decision about the installation of rooftop solar systems. It can be confusing many times to calculate the benefits v/s investment made. It also speeds up the process of adoption of solar energy for individual users. Homeowners aspiring to install the solar system just need to enter their property’s address on this website, and in just a few minutes the website provides the data of how many hours of usable sunlight their roof receives per annum. It also suggests the solar rooftop suppliers in the area specified.
Project Sunroof was launched in the year 2015. Today it has expanded to 42 states in the U. S. offering analysis of rooftops, New York to California. In the month of September 2016, this project was among 13 projects from all around the world to win prestigious Momentum for Change award, which is awarded for – innovative and potentially transformative ways to tackle climate change and move towards low-carbon future of the Earth.