Australian scientists developed an online tool to assess building’s potential for solar panels

The world is rushing towards renewable energy. More and more houses get solar panels on their roofs. However, this is a big investment and it doesn‘t always work out well. Now scientists from the University of New South Wales developed a new online tool to help house owners to assess the potential of installing solar panels on their roofs.

Not every building is suitable for solar panels – sometimes the tilt of the roof is not suitable and sometimes it is just covered by shadows. Image credit: Downtowngal via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Sun provides us with a huge amount of energy. But a lot of this energy gets wasted as heat where we don’t need heat. You may think that living in a hot climate country is enough to have a good potential for solar power, but that is not always the case. The investment needed to install solar panels is always quite big and in order for it to be sustainable we have to select the best locations. Owners of various buildings sometimes find that their solar panels on the roof are not very efficient. Now they will be able to use SunSPoT online tool to decide, if solar power is actually worth it.

The SunSPoT online tool works only in Australia, but the basic idea could be adapted to other countries in the world as well. SunSPoT takes into account the tilt of roof surfaces and shading at the site. If the place is not suitable for solar power, owners and municipalities can quickly see that. If anything, this tool saves energy and time. Usually shadows are the main drawback of the location, but sometimes the tilt of the roof is not suitable either. SunSPoT uses geographical information systems data and, therefore, uncovered massive potential for solar energy that is currently unused.

Australia did have its own share of energy problems. Electricity is becoming more expensive and Australians use a lot of it during summer, when air conditioning systems are on most of the time. The reason why air conditioning is required is extremely hot climate, which is typically very good for tapping into solar power. Paul Fletcher, Federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities, said about the SunSPoT: “Being developed under the Australian Government’s Smart Cities and Suburbs Program, the platform will benefit end users by allowing them to calculate their solar power potential and make informed decisions on investment in solar power generation”.

Solar energy is something we should be using more. It is not easy to tap into this renewable power source, but simple tools like the SunSPoT are certainly helping.

Source: UNSW

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