The world is becoming more and more discerning with the source of energy they’re using. As the effects of climate change are becoming more palpable, governments and the public are mobilizing efforts to cut down the reasons for climate change. One such initiative is to look for viable, sustainable sources of energy. Such as solar energy potential. Which begs the question, how many solar panels do I need?
Solar energy has been around for some time, yet we’re now seeing massive adoption in recent years because of improvements in technology and the reduction of installation costs.
Today, we’re going to talk about the solar potential. Solar potential refers to the total amount of solar panels that can be installed in one’s home. This is taking into consideration its size, amount of sunlight received tilt, location, and construction. On a national level, it’s the total number of roofs where solar panels can be installed. It gives you a picture of the highest number of solar energy output a nation can produce, should all the solar panels be installed on all available roof “real estate.”
U.S. Solar Energy Potential
In a study, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in 2016, the U.S. has over 8 billion square meters of rooftops on which solar panels can be installed. When that happens, there will be a huge potential of producing over one terawatt of potential solar capacity.
In the same study, the NREL estimates that 3.3 million homes will be built or will require roof replacements per year. If all these new constructions and roof replacements incorporate solar energy, then this can produce 30 gigawatts worth of solar capacity per year. This will have a huge impact on the country’s energy requirements and expenditures.
Tools to Measure Solar Potential
Tools to measure solar potential have been developed to estimate the amount of solar that can be installed on a given rooftop. We’ve included two tools that can be used by homeowners to measure their own rooftop’s solar potential. We’ve also included two other tools which businesses engaged in solar panel installation use in commercial establishments.
Using aerial imagery that is processed using proprietary algorithms to accurately analyze individual rooftops, and based on a combination of factors, each weighted uniquely to provide an accurate analysis of a rooftop, the SUN number is produced.
You can access SUN Number through a website. After typing your address, it should give you a number between 1 to 100. 100 is the ideal rooftop for solar. SUN has also collaborated with Zillow, an online home-listing service provider. The next time you go house hunting, you’ll already have an idea about your prospective house’s solar potential.
EnergySage is a platform that gives its users an idea of their potential savings when they switch to solar energy. If they do decide to switch, there’s a feature in the platform that connects them with qualified installers. Users will have the liberty to compare and select the system that fits their needs best. EnergySage uses the customer’s current electricity consumption and bill to come up with an estimate of their potential savings.
Aurora Solar Inc.’s web-based application quickly calculates the solar potential of a building’s rooftop. This is by utilizing advanced and proprietary image recognition and computer vision algorithms to assess and compare many potential sites. This is one of the tools used by professional solar panel installers to accurately estimate the potential of their client’s commercial buildings.
DGEN: Distributed Generation Market Demand
What sets DGEN apart from others in the industry is that their tool can simulate various scenarios involving their customer’s adoption of distributed energy resources for residential, commercial, and industrial entities in the United States or other countries through 2050. This gives their customers a unique perspective on the long-term impact of using solar. In the future, DGEN will be an open-source tool and so this may spur further developments around it.