- Google's Project Sunroof now analyzes home and building rooftops for their solar-readiness online in 20 U.S. metropolitan areas in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, and North Carolina.
- The just-expanded Project Sunroof online service, similar to those that compare air fares and hotels, uses the resources of Google Earth and a solar data base to assess weather patterns, shading, and local solar prices and incentives to present a homeowner or building occupant with a cost-benefit analysis of rooftop solar installation.
- Project Sunroof also compares the options of direct ownership and leasing through a third party ownership (TPO) finance plan for the site and provides contact information for local solar installers.
Project Sunroof launched in mid-2015 in San Francisco and Fresno, California, and Boston, Massachusetts. The intent is to streamline the screening process for rooftop solar and reduce the costs to installers of evaluations for sites without potential.
The website offers a link to the PVWatts tool from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory through which a would-be solar customer can obtain a second evaluation. The website also stresses that the final assessment must come from the installer after an onsite evaluation.
Solar provides about 1% of U.S. power and about two-thirds of that installed capacity comes from utility-scale central station arrays. Google has invested over $1.8 billion in renewable energy, according to Bloomberg News. That includes a $280 million fund backing SolarCity TPO rooftop installations in 2011 and a similar $300 million investment in early 2015.
While TPO was 72% of the national residential market in 2014, its market share is expected to be less for 2015 as loans and direct ownership take on a bigger role, according to U.S. Residential Solar Financing 2015-2020 from GTM Research.