Google and Total join forces to map rooftop solar potential

Google and Total join forces to map rooftop solar potential

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French oil and gas supermajor teams with Google Cloud to develop ‘Solar Mapper’, a digital tool that uses satellite imagery and AI to mine the solar potential of houses.

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French oil and gas supermajor Total has teamed up with Google Cloud to develop ‘Solar Mapper’, a new digital tool which uses satellite imagery and artificial intelligence to provide an estimate of the solar energy potential of houses.

Announced on Tuesday, the two companies pooled their relevant experience and expertise to develop the tool which uses brand-new artificial intelligence algorithms to provide better results than current tools.

They say Solar Mapper improves the quality of the data extracted from satellite imagery and provides better estimates of solar potential. Additionally, the tool improves the global geographical coverage of solar mapping technology while improving the relevance of the technology to be installed.

“Solar Mapper will enable Total to faster deploy solar panels on the houses’ roofs, in order to provide its customers with more affordable and more accessible solar energy,” said Marie-Noëlle Séméria, Total’s chief technology officer. 

“By combining Total’s expertise in solar energy with Google Cloud’s expertise in artificial intelligence and databases, we were able to develop an attractive and innovative offer together in just 6 months.”

Solar Mapper already provides more than 90% geographical coverage for France, allowing ever more people the opportunity to assess the solar potential of their own rooftops.

Total also plans to develop a Solar Mapper variant which will be dedicated to providing the same solar potential assessment to industrial and commercial buildings and installations.

No more information about Solar Mapper has been provided at this time, and Google Cloud has not added its own announcement to the mix as of yet.

As such, it is unclear what, if any relationship Solar Mapper has to Google’s existing Project Sunroof, which uses Google Earth imagery to analyse the shape of your roof and local weather patterns to create a personalised assessment of your home’s solar potential.

Launched all the way back in 2015 as a 20% Google project, Project Sunroof started out limited to the San Francisco Bay Area, Fresno (in central California), and the Boston area, before expanding to encompass the whole of the United States.

In 2017, Project Sunroof was expanded in partnership with German-based utility E.ON to provide German residents with an assessment of their rooftop solar potential.

It would seem, however, that there is some significant difference between Project Sunroof and Solar Mapper. Project Sunroof was always billed as a 20% Google project, utilising satellite imagery from Google Earth, and was never much of a priority for Google to develop – as exampled by their partnership with E.ON, the only way for the project to finally move overseas.

The new Solar Mapper, on the other hand, seems to pride itself on improved artificial intelligence algorithms, allowing it to secure more precise information from satellite imagery.

No word yet on when Solar Mapper will be open to the public, if ever, nor when it will expand to encompass Australia.

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