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    Australian team beat Google to solar potential tool

    Nathan Johnson

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    Google has released a new tool that calculates whether a house should convert its electricity generation to solar energy.  But it’s not the first of its kind.

    ‘Project Sunroof’ uses Google's mapping data and computing resources to help calculate the best solar plan for houses in the three American cities of San Francisco, Fresno CA and Greater Boston MA.

    But Australians might like to know that there is already a similar tool operating on our shores that was created by the Australian PV Institute (APVI) and can be used free of charge.

    Like Google’s Project Sunroof, the ‘APVI Solar Potential Tool’ is an online device for estimating the potential for electricity generation from PV on building roofs in Australian cities.

    The tool uses 3D building and vegetation models from AAM and weather data from the US Department of Energy Simulation Software Weather Data webpage to calculate average annual and monthly incident solar radiation on a building surface and the expected performance of a typical PV system for that building, as specified by the user.

    It also accounts for solar radiation and other weather variables at the site, and shading impacts of surrounding buildings and vegetation.

    Basically it operates a lot like Google Earth, allowing you to focus on a specific building and then estimate how much energy specific parts of the rooftop would generate with solar panels.

    The biggest shortfall of the APVI Tool is its scope, as it currently only shows data for areas very close to the CBD of each state capital city.

    The major difference between the APVI Tool and Project Sunroof is that the Google tool will recommend the size of solar system that you should install based on your average electricity bill and will even put you in touch with a local solar panel company that will install the system for you.

    Google hasn’t mentioned whether or not it will charge a referral fee those solar companies receiving jobs from the Project Sunroof initiative or whether or not they will expand the scope of the project to other American cities or into other countries.

    For more information on the APVI Solar Potential Tool please visit here.

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