Mapping the Solar Potential on Every Roof in the US

Geostellar wants to map the potential for solar on every residential and commercial property in the US (and eventually, the world) and is working with satellite imagery company GeoEye to do so. 

The model shows a property’s roof slope, shadows and weather patterns, combined with local utility rates and incentives, to determine how quickly a property owner can recoup an investment in solar energy.

The platform automates what is otherwise is a time-consuming  manual evaluation, and can be used by solar-leasing companies like SolarCity and Sungevity to prospect for customers as well as utilities looking for large-scale solar sites.

So far, Geostellar has maps of Washington D.C., Boston, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and New Jersey.

GeoEye, which is taking an equity positon in Geostellar, will help collect and analyze massive quantities of Earth imagery data and provide the information necessary to develop solar maps for every key metropolitan market in the U.S.

GeoEye has used satellite imagery to map archeological sites, manage forests and aid anti-terrorism surveillance. "Geostellar is a terrific example of how geospatial analytics can help transform a multi-billion dollar industry says Tony Frazier, senior vice president of Marketing for GeoEye. 

This isn’t the first tool like this, although it may be the first to incorporate the financial aspect – utility rates and incentives.

In 2007, CH2M Hill and the San Francisco’s Department of the Environment mapped every commercial and residential roof in San Francisco to estimate its solar potential.

Last year, researchers at Sweden’s University of Gothenburg developed a tool that can hone in on the maximum sun a roof, neighborhood, or even a whole town can get. It’s available free to companies and municipalities.

And along these lines, environmental groups developed Google maps to guide renewable energy development on public lands, and 3Tier created a solar map of the western hemisphere

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