Google solar project wins UN climate solutions award

Google's project sunroof

When you’ve got Google on your side, anything is possible. Now the search engine giant is acting as the catalyst for residential solar deployment in the U.S. with its Project Sunroof initiative. Launched just over a year ago, the project has already spread across the country, earning it a place among the 13 winners of the United Nations’ ‘Momentum for Change Lighthouse Initiative’ award.

Project Sunroof was one of five winners within the ICT Solutions category, while the others fitted into the Women for Results and the Financing for Climate Friendly Investment categories. All of the winners were chosen for their innovative approach to solving the challenge of climate change, and shall be honored at the U.N. COP22 Climate Conference in Marrakech in November.

“The Momentum for Change Lighthouse Activities underline how climate action and sustainable development is building at all levels of society from country-wide initiatives to ones in communities, by companies and within cities worldwide,” commented UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa. “By showcasing these remarkable examples of creativity and transformational change, along with the extraordinary people behind them, we can inspire everyone to be an accelerator towards the kind of future we all want and need.”

Project sunroof

A standout winner, Project Sunroof has the influential brand of Google leading its charge. It is an innovative project that makes solar evaluation as simple as a click of a button for U.S. homeowners. Aiming to solve the challenge that residential solar firms have in finding new customers, Project Sunroof enables homeowners to find out if solar is suitable for their property and how much they can save by installing the system. Launching just over a year ago in two states, it had already spread to 42 states by April 2016, and that trend looks to be continuing.

The highly technical solution uses Google mapping technology and aerial imagery from Google Earth to build 3D models of structures and the surrounding area to calculate a roof’s solar potential. While hi-tech behind the scenes, it is incredibly easy for homeowners to use, as all they need to do is enter their address into the program and it will generate the information.

The results show the potential solar customer how much power they could produce and how much that would save them on their energy bills. And to fully support the industry, it can even connect the potential customers with solar installers in the area.

An encouraging sign for the solar industry is that Project Sunroof was not the only solar-based winner of the U.N. Momentum for Change awards. Others included an EU crowdfunding platform for community solar project, aptly titled Crowdfunding for Community Solar Projects, and solar provider Off Grid Electric that utilizes an innovative financial package to provide solar systems in Tanzania.