One of the most challenging and fascinating projects that have taken over the world of renewable energy is Google Sunroof. It aims at showing the amount of solar power a roof can generate, based out of Google Maps.
The project helps you understand how much money you can save with the help of solar roofs on your house. You can lease or buy these panels for 20 years and save so much over the course of this time span. According to a study by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, there is a new plan in the works to install these panels for low-income households and help empower them with the technology beyond their financial status.
This project has the potential to save India billions of dollars in lost costs with other sources of energy. It’s important to understand what it entails and the difference it can make for you:
How does the project work?
The project was the brainchild of engineer Carl Elkin and uses a slew of techniques, including 3-D Modeling of the many rooftops, an aerial map database and takes into account other factors including the shadow of nearby trees and structures. This is then run against all the possible positions of the sun, over the course of one year.
Historical temperature and cloud patterns are also taken into account as they are factors that can affect the production of solar energy. By deciding the amount you wish to save on projects by opting for solar energy, you make life easier. Single-family residential developers and homeowners, in addition to commercial properties, can also benefit the public. The project makes use of the maps like the ones present on Google Earth and carries out the study from that as the starting point.
Users can also evaluate different financing plans and begin the process of saving money. India is seeing this project being implemented in a big manner, with plenty of cities looking to start the process. It will help cut down the energy lost by other methods as well.
India and solar mapping
This incredible technology is being implemented in India with RTS said to change the economics and the dynamics of energy around the world. The Indian Government’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has plans to add around 100 GW of solar power by the year 2022, with 40 MW generated purely through Grid Connected RTS.
There are plenty of incentive schemes and policies that are also being formulated to push RTS all over the country. By mapping the potential of the different regions in India, scientists can get a sound basis to create timelines to set up these projects. RTS is one sector where India has been lagging, however, and to realize this 40 GW target by 2022, many urgent policy reforms are required.
The benefits of rooftop mapping
To realize these targets within the time frame, the government requires reports sector-wise. These detail the different roadmaps to help achieve the required targets. Of these, one of the most basic building blocks towards a study is assessing the potential of RTS that urban areas, metros, semi-urban and rural areas possess as well. All stakeholders (national and local level government bodies, project developers, financial institutions and more) are given access to detailed info:
- – The bodies can frame better sector-wise policies and have a readily available market survey any time they need
- – The RTS potentials, in addition to the existing electricity network infrastructure data, will help analyze the impact on the various distribution transformers, along with the grid. The rooftop mapping data can also lead to studies of the lowering impact on potential systems. This, then leads to incorrect installations, leading to optimal designs.
- – Consumers won’t have to be on the lookout for consultants to understand the viability of any RTS plant on their roof. They will also be aware of the exact area required for them to install, the electricity amount generated by the plant and the period of payback on the investments they make.
Techniques and how India will receive solar mapping
There are many techniques available to map areas and estimate the RTS potentials. Some of these techniques involve the use of GIS or Geographic Information Systems, LIDAR or Laser Interferometry Detection and Ranging, along with hi-res aerial photography. All these techniques require a substantial investment in the best technology and infrastructure. The data available from Google make it easy to access information for free, but not in detail.
Google understands that the various provinces, both rural and urban vary. The metro cities have a massive diversity in rooftop arrangements and India’s cities have been urbanized in an unplanned manner over the last decade. This makes it hard to understand the demarcated areas for specific usage and categorizing this usage is one of the challenges in many cities.
Bangalore made a move by mapping the city with LIDAR and Google played a vital role in providing the mapped area information. The three crore budget, however, isn’t enough to map all the districts under BESCOM.
The Mumbai chapter of mapping was done with the use of the most minimal of resources, as most of the mapping was crowdsourced from students studying in different engineering colleges. This helped the city get its RTS potential mapped, and also helped students receive hands-on experience. These studies that are carried out with different methodologies, provide a range of options that can be replicated across the country, in other towns and cities.
Commercial mapping is a necessary process to ensure our world doesn’t run out of power. The dependency on renewable resources is only going to increase in the next few decades and getting a head start on the same is a good initiative by Google. Houses will be able to save money as well in the long term.
Overall, the Google solar mapping project in collaboration with the solar mapping of India’s rooftops looks to end promisingly. Post the completion of the project, you too, will be able to enjoy its benefits and also play your part in saving the environment.