In the United States alone, the installed solar capacity has grown from 1.2 to 20 gigawatts (GW) since 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. It is not a big issue to install a solar power plant on your roof. But would it not be nice to figure out easily how profitable a roof-mounted photovoltaic system is? With a few clicks instead of making complex calculations or hiring an engineer?
Yes, since 2013 when Mapdwell launched its Solar System, an interactive solar map. This effective decision-making tool, which has been steadily extended since that time, maps solar potential for entire cities including a cost-benefit analysis for each individual rooftop. It is possible to click on an individual roof in given communities to receive information about environmental impact, energy and financial savings, and installation price. Their interactive solar map considers rooftop shape, shading from nearby objects, and local weather. It is possible to use a design tool to configure your individual solar device or a preset configuration.
“In Cambridge, for example, a good roof will get you your money back within seven years,” says co-founder and technology co-inventor Christoph Reinhart, an associate professor of architecture and head of the MIT Sustainable Design Lab. “In the summer you want trees to lessen your air-conditional loads. But if your roof is heavily shaded, that’s obviously not good for solar,” he says.
Mapdwell collects data from LiDAR-equipped planes to map cities. They survey urban topography and map the terrain with reflections from lasers. They also consider geographical and weather data.
Thanks to ongoing improvements since 2013, the scope of service and the number of provided cities and communities became more and more extensive. Up to now, eight cities across the U.S., Boston, Boulder, Cambridge, New York, San Francisco, Washington County, Washington DC and Wellfleet, plus two cities in Chile, Lo Barnechea and Vitacura, are mapped. According to MIT, Mapdwell is currently working on further maps, for large U.S. metropolitan areas. Reinhart and the Sustainable Design Lab at MIT is developing a building energy model of Boston, which estimates the hourly energy demand loads down to the individual building level for the entire city.
The detailed 3D solar maps are based on technology developed by the Mapdwell team at MIT. It comprises academics, researchers, and professionals from different fields like design, environmental sciences, and computer sciences, building technology or engineering.
Any further information about the team, press, awards and the company are provided on their website. If you like Mapdwell’s solar map, you can use the provided form to convince your community to join.