image: San Francisco Solar Map
UPDATE Correction on the number of cities developing solar maps.
There are a couple of online utilities that help you calculate the solar potential of your building, and one of the coolest ones is the San Francisco Solar Map. Developed by CH2M Hill for the city and county of San Francisco, the map allows you to enter in your address, and estimate the size and cost of putting a solar PV system on your roof.
At Solar Power International CH2M Hill has announced that it will be working with 25 US cities to reduce barriers to solar power adoption. Of those, sources say that it is likely that 10-12 will choose to develop solar maps like that already developed in San Francisco. Read on for more:Part of DOE's Solar America Initiative
As part of the US Department of Energy's Solar America Initiative , CH2M Hill has been selected to help 25 cities to accelerate their adoption of solar power.
Under the program, and in consultation with local officials, each city will create "customized programs that encompass solar engineering, financial modeling studies, zoning code revisions, structural engineering analysis, emergency management operations using solar power, site selection for solar arrays, and installer certification and training."
And the Lucky Cities Are...
In addition to San Francisco, the following cities will be involved in the program: Denver; Houston; Knoxville; Milwaukee; Minneapolis; Orlando, Florida; Philadelphia; Sacramento; San Antonio, Texas; San Jose, California; Santa Rosa, California; Seattle; Ann Arbor; Austin, Texas; Berkeley, California; New York City; Boston; Madison, Wisconsin; New Orleans; Pittsburgh; Portland, Oregon; Salt Lake City; San Diego, California; and Tucson, Arizona.
Your city not included in the list? CH2M Hill says that for a low-res solar map it might cost your city about $20,000; while for a larger city and at high resolution the price tag might be in the $200,000 range. The company estimates that it costs about $4000 per urban square mile to develop a solar map.
The Consumer Benefits of Solar Mapping
In addition to the gee-whiz factor of being able to tinker around with solar maps—it's pretty neat to be able to play around with this sort of thing—the practical benefit to consumers wanting to install a solar PV system is that this sort of map allows you to, in one place, to access information about your building's solar potential, the size of systems available, about installers, all coordinated with local building code and electric rate information.
In CH2M Hill's words:
...solar maps and portals, radically impact everyday citizens' ability to understand, evaluate and adopt solar energy in their homes and places of business. For instance, CH2M Hill's Solar Portals combine aerial imagery with advanced 3D modeling, allowing entire cities to be mapped rooftop by rooftop in a matter of weeks. [...] Residents can easily log on, view their rooftops, calculate the available square footage for panels, mock up solar panel placement, estimate how much money they will save and choose from a listing of available installers. Residents can also see whether any of their neighbors have solar applications and get detailed information on tax rebates.
No word on exactly in which order these city's maps will become available but the DOE contract with CH2M Hill is for three years, and is worth $5.5 million for the Colorado-based company.
More at: CH2M Hill.
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