Google’s Project Sunroof

Katharine Shindoll
  • Katharine Shindoll
  • June 15, 2017
Google’s Project Sunroof

It’s summertime, which means the sun is out in full force and ready to show off its powerit’s warm, bright and people can literally feel and see its energy. In fact, in one hour the earth receives enough sunlight to power the global economy for one full year and, by Google’s estimations, if all eligible rooftops had solar panels 39% of the United States’ energy needs would be met with solar power. Because the sun’s strength isn’t typically a concern during winter months, Google waited until summer to unveil a major update to ‘Project Sunroof’ and capitalize on awareness. Now, instead of just using the tool to determine the benefits of solar panel installation on a home or building, Project Sunroof shows which neighbors have solar panels installed. In other words, Google’s Project Sunroof can now shame homeowners into installing solar panels by showing how many surrounding homes are harnessing the power of the sun. Strength in numbers.

Project Sunroof originally launched in 2015 to help people determine the outcome of solar panel installation. By showing the amount of sun someone’s roof receives and calculating the area conducive to solar panel installation, Google provided estimated annual savings and pointed homeowners in the direction of local installation companies. While these original features still exist, the update provides an extra incentive to take the plunge.

The information is gathered using a machine algorithm that analyzes satellite images. From those images, estimates of annual sunlight and usable roof area are generated. Based on the 3D structure of a homeowners roof and the surrounding foliage, Google can make recommendations about where the solar panels should and should not live on a roof.

Interested? Here’s how it works:

First, search an address on Google Earth. From there, adjust the electric bill to determine the best solar panel solution, contact an installer and pull the trigger. It’s really that simple. Google is hoping that simplifying and demystifying the solar panel installation process will entice more households and buildings to make the switch to solar energy. Google’s Project Sunroof has solar panel information on more than 60 million buildings in the US and is hoping to expand to over 100 million buildings over the next couple of years.


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