Project Sunroof

The price of installing solar panels on a home is increasingly becoming less expensive, and more homeowners are exploring panels to lower their energy bills. Google has a very cool tool called Project Sunroof where users can search for a house  and see how well solar panels will serve the location’s electric needs.

When you enter your address, Project Sunroof finds the home in Google Maps and computes how much sunlight hits your roof in a year by using the following:

  • Google’s database of imagery and maps
  • A 3D model of the house’s roof
  • Analyzing shadows cast by nearby structures and trees
  • Taking into account all possible sun positions over the course of a year
  • Historical cloud and temperature patterns that might affect solar energy production

After the tool determine how much energy solar panels could produce, the tool then determine if it makes financial sense to purchase or lease solar panels. It also looks at available federal & state tax credits, utility rebates, and renewable energy credits.

According to Google, these are the areas with the most potential for solar energy.

Also, according to the study “Selling into the Sun” by U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, home buyers are willing to pay a premium for a home with installed solar panels.

Getting Better?

I recently saw a Ted Talk entitled “Is The World Getting Better Or Worse?” by Steven Pinker, and he makes the case that things are indeed getting better despite the world still experiencing problems (for example, democracy has recently suffered setbacks in Venezuela, in Russia, in Turkey and is threatened by the rise of authoritarian populism in Eastern Europe and the United States). Here are some stats comparing 1987 to 2017 Pinker references to build his case:

  • Homicides In The United States: From 8.5 per 100k to 5.3 per 100k
  • Poverty In The United States: From 12% to 7%
  • Sulfur Dioxide Pumped Into The Environment: From 20MM tons to 4MM tons
  • Wars In The World: From 23 to 12
  • Autocracies In The World: From 85 to 60
  • Extreme Poverty In The World: From 37% to 10%
  • Terrorism Deaths In Western Europe: From 440 to 238