It’s no secret that solar power is growing in popularity.
States such as Arizona are seeing record numbers of residential solar system applications. So-called “Solar Gardens” allow people to invest in renewable energy and, in turn, receive a credit on their energy bill. Meanwhile, countries around the world are investing in solar energy at a record pace.
But for homeowners specifically, the question remains: How can I tell if installing solar panels will be a worthwhile investment for my home?
Well, none other than Google (GOOGL) has decided to tackle this important question.
On August 17, Google unveiled Project Sunroof, a tool that combines the company’s satellite imagery with some brand-new artificial intelligence (AI) to estimate how much you could save by switching to solar.
More specifically, Google uses its aerial photos from Google Earth to create a 3-D model of your roof. Wired reports that Project Sunroof uses “deep learning” neural networks to separate your roof from surrounding trees and shadows. The service then estimates how much light hits the roof in a given year based on the sun’s trajectory and local weather patterns.
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Finally, Project Sunroof uses public utility rates in your area to estimate the potential cost savings of switching to solar. Alternately, you can enter your average electric bill in order to see a more accurate cost savings estimate.
Project Sunroof is the brainchild of Carl Elkin, a Google engineer who lives in Boston and works on the Google search engine. According to Wired, Project Sunroof data is available for the San Francisco Bay Area, much of central California, and the greater Boston area. However, the goal is to expand the service to the entire country and even recommend solar providers in your area.
And why not? Solar is cheaper than ever. Given how environmentally friendly and cost-effective it can be, a service like Project Sunroof is just what the technology needs to take the next step toward mainstream adoption.