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Clean Power ucsd researchers fine tune map to predict most efficient solar energy installations

Published on January 12th, 2011 | by Tina Casey

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New Google Earth Map Lets Homeowners Predict Solar Power

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January 12th, 2011 by  

ucsd researchers fine tune map to predict most efficient solar energy installationsResearchers at the University of California, San Diego have harnessed the power of Google Earth to fine-tune a free solar map that works like a kind of crystal ball for solar power. The map helps homeowners and other photovoltaic installers to determine the most effective angle for solar panels in different parts of the state. It also helps to predict the amount of power a solar installation could generate. Tools like this are going to become increasingly important as solar energy competes for installation dollars with other emerging small-scale alternative energy technologies including micro wind power and fuel cells.

Predicting Solar Energy

According to an article from the UC Jacobs School of Engineering, Professor Jan Kleissl and his research team have correlated solar production with demand, in order to squeeze the most valuable power out of an installation. Electricity rates generally go up during periods of peak use, so it makes sense to build a solar installation that takes the best advantage of the sun’s location during these times.

Distributed Solar Energy and Green Jobs

Along with making solar energy a more economical choice for individual homeowners, the new map could help speed the development of more distributed solar networks. Distributed solar can help reduce the need to build new central power plants, while spreading more green jobs in local communities. As demonstrated by President Obama’s job-creation record in the first two years of his term, green jobs are an economic powerhouse despite the obstruction of legislators with an interest in preserving the dominance of fossil fuels. If legislators are serious about getting this nation on the right fiscal track, it’s time to stop coddling out-of-date, destructive energy sources.

Image: Crystal ball by Bitterjug on flickr.com.

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About the Author

Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeanalyn-McWhite/100000490324136 Jeanalyn McWhite

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  • Susanna Schick

    how is this different/better from the one 1bog.org has had for a couple years now?

    • Tina Casey

      Hi Susanna thanks for checking in, funny you should mention 1bog.org because it was cleantechnica’s host for a while! I haven’t poked around in their website but I think the key to the new map is that it correlates the ideal positioning of the solar panels with peak rate times, in order to get the most value for the homeowner or business person’s investment. That’s a bit different from positioning the panels for sunrise-to-sunset efficiency.

  • Chris

    Can you please advise:
    What are the instructions for enabling the add-on in Google Earth?

    • Tina Casey

      Anybody out there have any guidance for Chris?

  • http://www.alltechsolarusa.com Suzee Solar

    Just finished scanning the site and appreciate all of the information that’s included. This is really a one stop resource for anyone who is interested in alternative energies. I also love the fact that you are located in the Southwest being that we are here in Southern California. Keep up the good work!

  • http://solar-panels-cheap.net solar panels cheap

    Very cool! That Google Earth add-on will definitely help a lot of homeowners who are interested in going green to save money! Nice article, thanks!

  • yoshhash

    they seem to only work for California- am I doing it wrong? anyone have any luck elsewhere? specifically, I’m in Ontario, canada.

    • Tina Casey

      Hi yoshhash, sorry if the post was a little unclear about where this works — it’s just for California. But I bet if you ask around at some of the schools and research institutions in Ontario you may find some similar info for your area.

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