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Solar assessment tool for homeowners rolls out in Germany

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Google has rolled out its digital solar assessment tool to Germany, potentially bringing photovoltaic installations to seven million homes.

Project Sunroof is a website that enables homeowners to calculate the solar potential of their roof, based on factors such as orientation, shape, and weather trends.

The service in Germany is run in partnership with electric utility company E.on and software producer Tetraeder and available in urban areas covering about 40% of the country, including Munich, Berlin, Rhine-Main and the Ruhr area. Google and E.on plan to roll out the service to other EU states.

Homeowners considered suitable for a photovoltaic installation are directed to E.on’s solar department where they can purchase an all-in-one package comprising a PV module, Aura battery storage unit and cloud-based electricity account.

E.on provides a “Sunshine Guarantee” that its installations will produce the returns calculated and will financially compense customers for any shortfall.

In a statement on E.on’s website, Philipp Justus, vice president of Google in Germany and Central Europe said: “Google has been relying on renewable energy sources for many years in supplying the needs of its own infrastructure and beyond. With Sunroof our goal is to encourage more people to tap into the potential found in their own rooftops.”

Project Sunroof first launched in the US in 2015 and has gradually expanded to cover 50 states. According to Google, it has been used to determine the solar potential of over 60 million buildings.

The tool works like a search engine – users input their postcode to find out the solar energy generation potential of their house, including the potential cost savings. It pulls together data from Google Maps and Google Earth, 3D models, and machine learning data, also factoring in historical weather data, shading from nearby objects, and the position of the sun at different times of the year.

Germany is leading the European drive to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Renewables made up 41% of the country’s total energy consumption in April, the most in its history.

The government’s Energiewende initiative is a hugely ambitious, but much criticised, programme to promote renewable energy production through taxpayer subsidy. It aims to transition the country, from fossil fuels and nuclear power to a low carbon energy supply, by 2050.

E.on provides a ‘Sunshine Guarantee’ that its installations will produce the returns calculated and will financially compense customers for any shortfall.