Can I? Should I? Will it cost an arm and a leg?
Installing solar is not for the faint of heart. Apart from determining if the sun shines strongly enough to make solar viable in your neck of the woods, there’s a maze of regulations and incentives that can make or break the case for perching photovoltaic panels on your roof. Luckily, as is so often the case nowadays, the Internet is changing the way folks shop for renewable energy solutions.
Renewable Energy World reports on how solar maps are sprouting up around the country. Started by San Francisco in 2007, solar maps are now available for Boston, Los Angeles, Portland, Ore., Salt Lake City, Denver and soon New York City. Writer Stephen Graff explains:
The maps, many of which are partially financed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar America Cities program, have undoubtedly simplified the process of researching solar. After entering an address, users are presented with a bird’s-eye view of the location and a box with tailored information, including roof size and solar potential of the home or business. Cost and energy savings also pop up, with a list of installers and incentives just a click away.
San Francisco developed the first solar map with Critigen’s SAFE methodology, which uses a combination of aerial imagery and 3D modeling with an emphasis on sun and shade and obstructions to determine a building’s solar potential. The other information is pulled from various city, state and federal websites and databases, essentially an aggregate of incentive information that is uploaded into the technology.
It’s only natural, really. Online maps have already revolutionized travel, dining, real estate and now it’s doing the same for the consumer renewable energy market. Even 1BOG relies on geolocal mapping technologies to get the solar group buying word out. And if the momentum keeps building, it’s easy to imagine overlays to point eco-aware consumers to neighborhoods, shopping centers and venues that are primed for clean energy. Make it happen Google!