Furthering environmental sustainability with a tool to better calculate the potential of rooftop solar panels

Solar energy generated by rooftop panels represents a powerful tool in reaching environmental sustainability goals for governments, businesses and individuals. For example, experts say rooftop solar systems could provide more than 24% of the European Union’s electricity needs—though, now, they account for only 4%.

Our advanced solar energy generation calculator uses the latest in space, geospatial and utilities-industry technology to provide precise data for making informed decisions about moving to solar energy.

Current challenges

Solar electricity can be produced at a lower cost than traditional sources of electricity in many areas. But many energy providers continue to use inefficient and simplistic approaches to calculating the potential for rooftop solar power. By considering only basics, like the size of rooftops and the potential location of panels, crucial factors like shadows, neighboring buildings and other obstacles often are not considered.

In addition, such analyses are labor-intensive—performed manually on site—and, at best, provide only a rough estimate of potential energy generation and savings. An advanced analysis system is needed to show the true potential of solar energy on a case-by-case basis.

Combining space, geospatial and utilities insights

CGI’s advanced solar-energy generation calculator uses the latest tools and techniques such as remote sensors and other data-collection technologies, including satellite-based Earth observation. The data we collect includes the total area of a roof, the roof’s angle, its exposure to the sun, nearby physical obstacles and shadows covering it during different parts of the day. The application combines this data with existing information such as historical weather patterns and infrastructure details. Our calculator determines the best area on a roof for solar panels, how many solar panels can be placed on that roof, the maximum energy output a homeowner can expect and an estimate for annual electricity production.

Potential use cases

For utilities providers

  • Generate data about solar-power generation potential for properties of existing clients
  • Target offers for specific clients and potential clients
  • Provide an effective tool for sales representatives

For central / federal and state / provincial / local governments

  • Record the solar-power generation potential of all buildings in their jurisdiction
  • More efficiently allocate solar-power related subsidies / incentives
  • Create a cooperative ecosystem among energy and utility companies and solar infrastructure providers
  • Increase usage of solar energy to meet sustainability goals

For solar power infrastructure providers

  • Remotely calculate the cost of panels and installation
  • Remotely identify sun power generation potential and calculate cost and savings for the end user
  • Provide a customer-facing self-evaluation tool for marketing campaigns

Case in point: Enabling self-service solar potential calculation in Estonia

Working with an energy and utilities provider in Estonia, we embedded our solar-energy calculator into a self-service environment which they have used primarily for sales and marketing. The application is able to analyze the rooftop-solar potential for individual consumers and provide them with a cost estimate.

We also used the calculator to generate the solar-power generation potential at a list of properties owned by the provider’s existing customers. We are in talks with other clients, including solar-infrastructure providers and the Estonian government, about additional potential uses for the calculator.