Estimating solar rooftop potential with artificial intelligence

Last update on Jan. 21, 2020.

Estimating solar rooftop potential with artificial intelligence

Solar-estimate.org uses an AI powered tool to determine solar panel options for homeowners.

Key for the business case for distributed generation for households is the potential of their rooftop and its ability to meeting their energy needs.

Google’s Project Sunroof was a pioneering initiative for consumers and subsequently other estimators have emerged. Now artificial intelligence (AI) has been brought to bear in the latest, aptly named solar-estimate.org, which is claimed as a ‘first’ in incorporating it along with other analytical tools to calculate optimum solar panel placements and the savings these could bring.

The tool, currently available free to homeowners in the US, requires entry of their address and the dollar amount of their last electricity bill. The tool then confirms the local utility company and its rates structures and determines the average kWh usage in the home. Utilising time-of-day and seasonal electricity usage patterns for the area, backed by data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), and local solar production data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratories, the AI component analyses an aerial image of the property to determine the various roof planes available and the potential of each for solar panels. Then with a suggested optimum placement of panels taking into account factors including the tilt and shading, expected productions and costs and savings forecasts are calculated.

“Solar-estimate.org’s new solar panel layout tool is trailblazing on several fronts” says Andy Sendy, president, noting that it was more than two years in development. “It’s the first online roof layout tool that incorporates machine learning. It requires less knowledge than any professional tool to use. It’s also the first free tool available to consumers that takes into account roof direction and angle, determines how many panels can fit on the roof and then generates an accurate financial estimate.”

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