Distributed solar power goes wild! Geostellar has teamed its rooftop solar power analytic toolkit with the satellite imaging company GeoEye to help realize its grand plan to assess the solar energy generating potential of every rooftop in the U.S. With this tool in hand, practically anyone with a roof can get a quick preview of whether or not a solar installation is a sound investment for their property.
Geostellar’s Solar Power Calculator
Geostellar’s signature analytic tool essentially stuffs a laborious manual process into a software package, significantly lowering the price of calculating the return on investment for a solar installation (or, for that matter, deciding whether the property is suitable for a solar installation at all).
By helping to lower the cost of planning a solar installation, the new partnership dovetails with President Obama’s SunShot initiative, which aims to make solar power cost-competitive with fossil fuels, not only by funding research into more efficient solar technology, but also by cutting sidebar expenses such as site development and permitting for distributed solar power installations.
The model takes into account roof slope, shadows, weather patterns, local utility rates, and even solar energy subsidies.
A Rooftop Solar Map of the U.S.
So far, Geostellar has applied its model to areas where publicly sourced aerial imagery is available, including Washington D.C., Boston, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and New Jersey. The partnership with GeoEye will enable it to create a nationwide catalog of both residential and commercial properties.
In addition to being used by individual property owners, the database could provide energy planners with valuable insights regarding the potential for distributed solar energy on all levels, from neighborhoods to whole cities and regions.
Another Solar Tool in the Alternative Energy Kit
Geostellar’s rooftop solar database could be combined with other emerging energy planning tools, including free online resources such as the interactive building energy map developed at Columbia University, the energy atlas of the U.S. created by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Google Earth’s solar power map.
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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. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.