Google, in partnership with energy supplier E.ON and with help from German software firm Tetraeder, has released an online tool called ‘Project Sunroof’ that uses Google’s Earth and Maps apps to estimate how much money homeowners could save by switching to solar power.
Smart machine learning is at the heart of the tool, and it is able to examine factors like its roof area and angle, and weather data, and sun positioning to help it arrive at an estimate of the solar potential of a house, and the total amount of sunlight that falls on a particular rooftop every year.
7 Million Rooftops
The partnership with E.ON covers seven million rooftops across Germany. It uses E.ON’s solar power and battery product offerings to calculate how much a specific household could save by installing solar panels and a battery pack.
The idea is part of a move towards countries, including the UK, adopting more renewable energy ideas, and is clearly a way to help inform and convince homeowners to cut energy bills, and help the environment by installing solar panels on their roofs.
International Energy Agency figures show that, even back in 2016, renewable energy accounted for two-thirds of new power added to the world’s grids. Solar power was the fastest-growing source of new energy worldwide that year, and is still growing in popularity now.
In the EU, the Renewable Energy Directive set out for all member countries to reach a 20% renewables target before 2020. Google’s shared project, therefore, helps to feed into that goal.
In recent years, many UK homeowners have taken advantage of grants and tariffs e.g. the Feed-in Tariff and Generation Tariff schemes to install and get money back / save money on the green energy they help produce and feed / sell into the grid.
Some fears have been expressed that the spread of renewables such as solar and wind across the US (for example) could suffer if the US International Trade Commission imposes tariffs on imports of Chinese solar panels.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
There is wide agreement that sustainable, renewable, green energy sources are needed to meet world demand while minimising the impact on the environment, and not contributing to climate change. Many businesses, some of which are big polluters, are coming to accept the many benefits that renewables and involvement with green projects have to offer.
Google’s involvement with this scheme is consistent with its recent, public commitment to green energy, and having the Google brand name involved in the project is a positive association that could help to convince customers to adopt solar. For example, back in December 2016, Google announced that all of its data centres and the offices for its 60,000 staff would be powered entirely by renewable energy from 2017, a formidable target that it now claims to have met. Even when the announcement was made, Google was already the world’s biggest corporate buyer of renewable electricity.
Google’s image and brand can only benefit from its public commitment to renewable energy, as it will from ‘Project Sunroof’, although Google’s commitment is also based on reducing costs in the longer term, and being seen to pave the way for other corporations.