In an innocuous announcement last month, Google has expanded Project Sunroof to 42 states across the US, up from 10 states in December.
We first heard of Google’s Project Sunroof nearly a year ago. At the time, it was simply the latest in a number of Google’s 20% projects. In the company’s 2004 IPO letter, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin explained the idea: “We encourage our employees, in addition to their regular projects, to spend 20% of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google,” they wrote. “This empowers them to be more creative and innovative. Many of our significant advances have happened in this manner.”
In August of 2015, Carl Elkin wrote about his 20% project, Project Sunroof, an online tool which helps “homeowners explore whether they should go solar or not” by providing access to high-resolution aerial mapping to help calculate a roof’s solar energy potential “without having to climb up any ladders.” We soon discovered that Project Sunroof had teamed up with big names such as SunPower, SunEdison, Sungevity, and more.
At the time of conception, Project Sunroof was limited to the San Francisco Bay Area, Fresno (in central California), and the Boston area. A few months later it had expanded to include Napa, Sacramento, and Long Island.
In a catch-all post explaining “How technology can help us become more sustainable” on the Google Official Blog, published back in April, Google announced that Sunroof had now expanded to 42 states across the US, making free solar information available to 43 million rooftops and those living beneath them.
Speaking to Greentech Media last week, Nicole Lombardo, head of business development and partnerships at Project Sunroof, explained part of the rationale behind Google’s plans for Project Sunroof:
“Google is in the business of providing universal access to information. So being able to take the imagery that we have and find new use cases for it that can help, in this case catalyze the renewable energy transition here in the U.S. …is within our core.”
Google is aiming to reach all 50 US states in the coming months, with only Texas, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Idaho, South Dakota, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alaska, and the District of Columbia unable to participate as of writing.