Don't worry, this huge building is just the example address. Image: IMBY, NREL
Thinking About Putting Solar Panels on Your Roof? Or a Wind Turbine Maybe?
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has created an online tool called In My Backyard (IMBY, obviously based on the NIMBY acronym). The goal is to "estimates how much electricity you can produce through solar and wind power in your own backyard." It's based on Google Maps, and while it's relatively sophisticated compared to other such tools, it is very easy to use if all you want is a rough estimate of how much wind or solar power you can expect to be able to generate.
Image: IMBY, NREL
How it Works
The basics are simple: You input your home address, or the address of where you want to learn about. Once you've done that, you can look at either solar power, or wind power (though wind information doesn't seem to be available everywhere yet).
If you picked solar, you can then draw your planned solar panels directly on the map and then adjust the technical details (input the kW capacity, tilt angle, etc).
Once you've done all that, the system will run a simulation and tell you how much you could expect a renewable energy system of the size you selected to generate at that location. You can even compare that power generation with typical usage patterns from various cities to see if you could meet your needs, what your power bills would look like (depending on whether you have an energy surplus or deficit).
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