Researchers at MIT have developed a new 3D solar potential mapping tool. The first rooftop solar mapping module of the Mapdwell platform, Solar System is available to anyone with Internet access. Incorporating factors ranging from roof angles and surface temperatures to local weather data and physical obstructions,
Solar System has been able to predict within 4 to 10 percent of photovoltaic (PV) panels' annual electricity yield during testing. MIT's home city of Cambridge, Massachusetts is the first to get a complete solar map of its 17,000 rooftops. According to Solar System, if PV panels were installed at all rooftop locations deemed "good" or better, they could provide one third of the city's energy needs for roughly $2.8 billion.
Solar System is inviting to play with and easy to use. But for all of the data it offers on potential expenses, tax credits, and revenue, these estimates cannot replace on-site evaluation for solar projects, as the "important notice" on any "Solar Electric Potential Report" states (example here). As with older solar mapping tools like the San Francisco Energy Map, since Solar System might not incorporate all real-world conditions into its analysis of a potential site, the use-value of the system seems more motivational and symbolic than strictly informative and technical.
For those interested in PV panel installation on rooftops in Cambridge, it is an accessible place to start. As a way to generate awareness of solar power potential, Solar System could also offer those who hadn't considered PV panels for their buildings reasons to investigate it further. However, consumers exploring the possibilities on the map can only determine what PV panels may potentially, but not with certainty, generate and cost.
screen capture via Mapdwell Solar System
written by Gord, July 08, 2013
written by Yu-kai Chou, July 15, 2013
written by aiya rogers, August 07, 2013
written by Pool Heater Solar, August 28, 2013
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