About three weeks ago Google announced what it called Project Sunroof. Apparently there is simply no end to the products and services the tech giant is rolling out on a regular basis. Google is now a beast. Albeit, a benign beast, gradually taking over our daily activities and dumping them into a cloud-based service provider. We might wake up one morning and just discover to our out-most joy that Google has the answer to all of life’s questions.
Anyway, back to Project Sunroof. The premise for this is simple, since almost everybody (except those nice folks working in Microsoft who use bing), uses Google search to find out a lot of things, Google servers now have enough data about almost all of us and our daily activities to answer questions like, ‘Is solar power good for me?’
What Google is saying is that, with Project Sunroof, instead of just giving you the straightforward answer, it would in addition to that, tell you why you need solar power in your apartment. It would also tell you how to install the solar panels. That is not all. Project Sunroof would also tell you where you can contact local installers if you actually decide to go solar.
According to Carl Elkin, the head of project Sunroof, in a blog post on Google’s Green Blog,
‘Project Sunroof is a new tool we are testing to help home owners explore whether they could go solar. Available in the San Francisco Bay area, Fresno (in central California), and the Boston area for now, the tool uses high resolution aerial mapping (the same used by Google Earth) to help you calculate you room’s solar energy potential without having to climb up any ladders’
The Sunroof project therefore factors in the weather situation in your area, the amount of shade your building gets in a day, the position of high rise buildings around your house (if there are any), how your roof is angled and the amount of trees around your house. All this data is available in Google Earth.
What is in it for Google? Well in theory the local solar power installers are to be listed in the project Sunroof data just like an advert. If anybody contacts the installer through Project Sunroof, Google is likely to get a bit of commission almost like the way it is done in affiliate marketing. But what Google is trumpeting the loudest here is the fact the Project Sunroof is just one of the many ways they are trying to improve the world’s carbon energy emissions or reduce the world’s carbon footprint.
To get started, you need to write out your address in the project Sunroof user interface and other details such as your monthly power bill. These details will then be used to tell you how to go about getting solar energy for your building. You will also get information on the amount of money you will be saving by installing the equipment. That is another way of telling you if it is in your own interest to install it. All very laudable from Google. But sadly this is just the test phase of the project. So it is limited to only San Francisco and Boston, a major urban cosmopolitan area in the East coast of America.
The last word from Carl Elkin,
‘While project Sunroof is in a pilot phase for now, during the coming months we’ll be exploring how to make the tool better and widely available.’
Lets hope by the time it gets to us here in Africa, the initial cost of buying all those solar panels and accessories like batteries and power inverters won’t be as exorbitant as it is right now.