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Google's 'Project Sunroof' Expands To European Markets

Since 2015, Google has been working on “Project Sunroof,” a program that’s geared to tell consumers if switching to solar panels on their roof is the right call. While powering your house via the sun is a greener and likely cheaper alternative in the long run, it wouldn’t do much good if there wasn’t adequate sunlight reaching the area. Google, in partnership with a few German companies, has been able to expand the product into the German market.

Earlier this week, Germany’s residents have been able to use Project Sunroof to see if their house makes sense to switch to solar energy. This was made possible through a collaboration with E.ON, an energy company, and Tetraeder, a software maker. Initially, 40 percent of the country will be able to see extensive data, which is roughly seven million people and it will be mostly in densely-populated areas. Google announced that this was the first time this technology has been available outside of the United States.

The process of finding out information on a specific house is very easy. For those that live in Germany, they simply log on to eon-solar.de and put in their address. Joel Conkling of Google’s blog, The Keyword, explains how the process works. A couple of the company’s products, including Google Earth and Google Maps, uses information from their satellites to figure out how much of the sun is usable as solar energy. It will then analyze this data based on roof layout, typical weather in the area, and if there are any obstructions in the way. Finally, it'll figure out approximately how much money can be saved based on all this information it was able to retrieve. 

Google Project Sunroof

Much of the US already has the ability to see how much they could save with the switch to solar energy. In similar form, it’s as simple as going to the website and typing their home address in. Again, it will analyze the house, whether or not the rooftop is adequate enough to gather energy from the sun, and it will estimate savings based on the amount being paid for electricity. The areas highlighted in orange are places around the country that can get information.

Similar to Germany, most of the densely-populated areas are able to find out if the alternative energy is right for them. Project Sunroof has hit all 50 states, but most of those people living in rural areas and smaller towns won’t have much luck. The West Coast has more coverage with much of California, Arizona, Utah, and western parts of Oregon and Washington all available.

Making the switch to solar panels is still very expensive. The average amount to install them is roughly $17,000. Homeowners can expect to get that money back in the long term, however, as some can save up to $1,000 or more per year on their electricity. This technology will only get cheaper as researchers also find alternative ways to obtain solar energy. For example, the pigment in a specific berry in India could significantly cut down on manufacturing costs.

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