One really exciting reality of the solar boom, is how so many major companies are contributing to the innovation. Elon Musk’s Tesla introduced the Powerwall, which advances solar battery storage technology, and now Google, among many others, is chipping-in, as well.
Google developed a very user-friendly source for consumer-specific solar data. In other words, if you are curious about what the numbers would be for your home if you were to put solar panels on your roof, simply plug your home address into Google’s Project Sunroof. This site will immediately give you a dollar amount of how much you would save over the course of the life of your solar panels.
Project Sunroof calculates this by first using the 3D imaging on their Google Earth function to look at the total surface space of your roof. It will then look at the amount of sunlight your neighborhoods tends to get by considering cloud cover, average temperature, and other factors. Project Sunroof can even sense shade from nearby trees or buildings and adjust the numbers accordingly.
For those who are considering installing solar panels on their homes, this gives some actual data about just how much sunlight (and therefore savings) they are likely to receive. After Project Sunroof spits out a number, it will then give a list of local solar installers, helping move the person’s solar curiosity towards being a reality. This makes it not just a tool for the consumer but a lead generator for the installers. Connecting the two would make Google a powerful middle man in the solar installation process.
Solar installers will gain exposure from this to potential customers, which will be a major benefit for them. However, how Google will take advantage of their leverage is still unclear. They could charge for top position like they do in normal Google searches, or even charge per lead. No matter how they end up profiting from the service, it will likely be another useful tool for consumers and a great lead generator for the installers.
The project started off as a pilot just in Boston, San Francisco, and Fresno, but in a very short time it has expanded across the country. Now Google has made it available in 42 of 50 US states, and the other eight states are only lagging because they do not yet have full Google Earth access. It will be a very important new player to watch as the solar power industry continues to experience rapid progress.