Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Google's Project Sunroof: How It Could Help You Save with Solar Power

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Google's Project Sunroof: How It Could Help You Save with Solar Power

Article excerpt

Google wants to make it that much easier to go solar.

The company on Monday launched Project Sunroof, a new online service that taps into Google's growing capacities in satellite imagery and artificial intelligence to give consumers a comprehensive look at how much they would save by swapping their traditional power source for solar energy.

The project, currently available for residents of San Francisco, Boston, and Fresno, Calif., is the latest investment to tie Google to renewable energy sources - and solar in particular - and could be a step towards making solar power more accessible and easy to use.

"As the price of installing solar has gotten less expensive, more homeowners are turning to it as a possible option for decreasing their energy bill," according to Google. "We want to make installing solar panels easy and understandable for anyone."

To that end, the company developed what is essentially a search engine that relies on the same technology that Google Earth uses to map cities all over the world. The user types in an address, and Project Sunroof creates a 3D model of that location's roof structure. It then estimates how much sunlight that roof gets in one year and how much the homeowner might save over the next 20.

"People search Google all the time to learn about solar," Joel Conkling, a renewable energy investment expert with Google, told Wired. "But it would be much more helpful if they could learn whether their particular roof is a good fit."

Solar energy is the fastest-growing renewable energy source in the United States today and, along with wind, accounts for two- thirds of renewable growth in the country, the US Energy Information Administration reported in May.

Advocates tout solar's advantages, Vox's David Roberts noted: unlike other sources of electricity, including hydropower, photovoltaic (PV) panels eschew the use of turbines and convert solar energy directly into electricity. …

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