By Simon Kahan, Solar intern for the DCSEU
Solar for All, a Department of Energy & Evironment program, strives to spread the benefits of solar energy to as many DC residents as possible. However, not every house can support solar installations. To maximize the number of houses the program can reach, a software modeling program to create a three-dimensional model of a house using a two-dimensional satellite photo. The three-dimensional model helps to see if a property will be suitable for a solar installation and assesses the various factors of the property that could have an impact on the effectiveness of the solar PV system.
To determine whether the roof of someone’s home is suitable for solar, there are several different aspects to assess. Here are three factors used to determine a home’s solar energy potential.
Roof orientation and the quality and condition of the roof are among some of the things we look for when assessing a property. Flat or south-facing roofs are ideal, as they provide solar panels with the best position possible to maximize energy production.
One of the most important factors that we consider is shading. Surrounding trees and other buildings can often cast shadows over solar installations, and through three-dimensional modeling, we can recreate these sources of shading to allow us to assess the risk of these shadows and alter the position of the solar panels to suit the energy requirements of the homeowner.
Another important factor that we focus on are potential obstructions. Many roofs have chimneys, ventilation, and other obstacles placed on the roof that can impede solar panel placement. Three-dimensional modeling allows us to place solar panels in the ideal position to accommodate all obstacles there may be.