When you think of Google, you probably think of searching the internet for those random questions that pop into your head throughout the day. Or maybe email, chat, mapping directions, document collaboration or one of a dozen other ubiquitous products the company is known for.
But Google is also an advocate for clean, renewable energy and just so happens to be the world’s largest corporate purchaser of clean energy. The company launched Project Sunroof last August in three metro areas — San Francisco, Fresno and Boston — calling it “a kind of treasure map of solar energy.”
In January, Project Sunroof expanded to 20 additional metros in California, Massachusetts, Arizona, New York, New Jersey, Nevada, Connecticut, Colorado and North Carolina. Now the tool is available in 42 states. (Sorry, Texas, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Idaho, South Dakota, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alaska and the District of Columbia!)
Project Sunroof is a tool that allows users to enter their address to get an estimate of how much they could save by installing solar power on their home. Users can toggle through average monthly utility bill amounts and different financing options to come up with what works best for their home.
To determine costs and potential savings, Google calculates the cost to lease, finance (loan), or buy solar panels based on current solar industry pricing data. Then it makes a recommendations for what’s best. Google compiles info on federal and state tax credits, utility rebates, renewable energy credits and net metering to come up with the savings estimates.
The tool tabulates your solar potential by estimating how much sunroof your rooftop receives each year thanks to Google’s extensive mapping technology and data resources. It uses:
- Google’s database of aerial imagery and maps
- 3D modeling of your roof
- Shadows cast by nearby structures and trees
- All possible sun positions over the course of a year
- Historical cloud and temperature patterns that might affect solar energy production
Alabama is behind the times when it comes to offering incentives to residential power customers to switch to clean energy like solar. Even though we rank in the top 20 for potential solar capacity we lag behind on solar installations and even further behind when it comes to solar jobs. (Last year we ranked a dismal 49th.)
The good news is we have tools and information available to you for free on our SolarWorks website. Get educated and to become an engaged advocate for clean energy here in Alabama! And if you want to go a step further, join GASP as a member today!
Michael joined GASP in 2013 as communications specialist. He has lived in Birmingham since 2008, and is an active member of the Birmingham community. He’s a passionate advocate for health equity, civil rights and equality. He is currently serving as executive director. Email Michael