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Online tool developed at UNSW to calculate solar power potential of rooftops in Australian cities

Online tool developed at UNSW to calculate solar power potential of rooftops in Australian cities

The Australian
Photovoltaics Institute (APVI)
 and the University of New South Wales (UNSW)
have developed a new online platform that can be used to calculate the solar
power potential of any rooftop in Australian cities. The  SunSPoT online tool has been developed
with technology partners Solar
Analytics
and Enosi Pty Ltd, as part of the Energy Data for Smart Decision
Making project, funded by the Australian Government’s Smart Cities
and Suburbs
program.

The platform is expected to help residents, councils and
businesses make better decisions about investment in solar power.

SunSPoT uses
geographical information systems data to estimate the technical potential of
rooftop solar.
The tool accounts for solar
radiation and weather at the site; PV (photovoltaic) system area, tilt,
orientation; and shading from nearby buildings and vegetation.

3D building and
vegetation models from AAM,  a
leading spatial information technology provider and Typical Meteorological Year
(TMY) weather data from the US Department of Energy Simulation Software Weather
Data webpage are used to calculate average annual and monthly incident solar
radiation on a building surface and the expected performance of a typical PV
system of the size specified by the user, with PV panel orientation and tilt
defaulting to that of the roof surface, or defined by the user.

The platform can already be used online to assess solar
potential on specific rooftops in early-adopter local government areas that are
already project partners, including Ku-ring-gai, Willoughby, Randwick, Northern
Beaches and Lane Cove. More cities and towns will be added as the program
expands.

It can also be used to assess the potential across
geographical areas. According to the media release from UNSW, analyses of
Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney have already
discovered enormous untapped potential for solar power installations across a
range of buildings.

The tool was launched by Federal Minister for Urban
Infrastructure and Cities, Paul Fletcher. The Minister said, “The Energy Data
for Smart Decision Making project will combine mapping with data on solar
exposure, energy generation and consumption from precincts across Australia
into an open modelling platform.

“Being developed under the Australian Government’s Smart
Cities and Suburbs Program, the platform will benefit end users by allowing
them to calculate their solar power potential and make informed decisions on
investment in solar power generation.”

He added that the project is an example of how the program
encourages collaboration between local governments, research organisations and
the private sector to deliver a solution that can be applied locally and shared
around the country.

UNSW Associate Professor and Chair of the Australian
Photovoltaics Institute, Renate Egan, commented, “As solar PV continues to be
deployed at record rates on Australian rooftops, such analysis can help
councils and the electricity industry plan for the solar future.”

The SunSPoT tool is available here: http://pv-map.apvi.org.au/sunspot

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