Google wants to expand rooftop solar by measuring your house from space

Sunny side up.
Sunny side up.
Image: Screenshot, Project Sunroof
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The sun is a massive ball of free energy that could be powering your home. Unfortunately, researching and installing solar panels is currently a bit of a hassle. Google wants to fix that problem with a new tool called Project Sunroof.

Sunroof uses Google Maps to model how much sunlight hits a given property, estimates how much rooftop space is available for solar panels, and then calculates the projected cost and savings, depending on whether the solar panels are leased, bought with a loan, or purchased outright. The tool also connects consumers with solar installation and finance companies like Sunpower and Sun Edison.

The tool is currently only available in Boston, Fresno, California, and the San Francisco Bay area but Google said it has plans to roll out to other US cities and perhaps eventually the world. The company has previously invested in Solar City, Elon Musk’s rooftop solar installation company,.

Sunroof is designed to work on houses, but here’s what happens when you punch in the address for Fenway Park, the famous Boston landmark and Neil Diamond shrine. According to Sunroof, Fenway gets 1,413 usable hours of sunlight a year, has over 28,000 sq ft (2800 sq m) of roof space for solar panels, and could potentially save up to $23,000 a year on its electrical bill. That’s a little over three innings’ worth of second baseman’s Dustin Pedroia’s salary this year.

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