Google and E.ON bring Project Sunroof to the UK to help homeowners switch to solar

The online tool lets you put in your address and check if the size of your roof makes it suitable for solar

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Google’s Project Sunroof, the online tool that helps homeowners work out if its worth them installing solar panels, is coming to the UK. 

Following a partnership between energy provider E.ON, Google, and software provider Tetraeder, the trio has launched a "Solar Calculator" that lets you put in your address and check if the size of your roof, its angle, the local weather conditions and sun positioning, as well as environmental conditions (such as the presence of trees above your property) are not only suitable for solar panels, but if installing a solar system could help save you money on your energy bills. 

 It uses Google Earth, Google Maps and machine learning and Google claims its so accurate, it can even "assess the impact of shade from a single tree on the solar output potential of a particular property." The tool is not available in all regions of the UK just yet – when we tried to check our property, the calculator got stuck in a loop asking for the house number – but it is expected to roll out more widely in the coming months. 

To check if your home is suitable for solar panels, go to the E.ON Solar website and enter your postcode. The tool calculates potential cost savings and lets you sign up to begin the solar panel installation process. E.ON said that people who buy E.ON Solar and Storage could typically save £630 a year.

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This partnership supports the UK’s target to produce 30% renewable energy by 2020.

“The launch of Project Sunroof is part of our ongoing efforts to bring fresh digital solutions to market for the benefit of our customers," said Michael Lewis, chief executive of E.ON UK. "Project Sunroof...is easy to use and highly effective in giving people the in-depth and personalised information they need to make well-informed decisions about whether solar technology is the right solution for them.”

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Google's Project Sunroof is not the first tool of its kind in the UK. Ikea recently began selling solar panels and batteries in the UK – a move that it claims could slash energy bills by up to £560 a year.

As part of the initiative, Ikea partnered with Solarcentury to launch an online solar calculator. Similar to the one made by E.ON and Google but not quite as advanced, Solarcentury's calculator brings up a Google Maps aerial view of your home followed by a series of questions about the shape, angle and sunny side of their roof, and how often your home is occupied. 

Google launched Project Sunroof in the US in March last year and ties in with Alphabet's somewhat aggressive push towards renewables. In 2016, the company bought the entire output, or 12 years' worth of power, from a 50-turbine wind farm in Norway. Last year, the company achieved its target to be powered by 100% renewable energy. 

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More recently, Alphabet’s X lab – the secretive research wing of the Google-owning conglomerate – released details of project Malta, a system for storing renewable energy using large quantities of salt and antifreeze.

Elsewhere, Google teamed up with nuclear fusion experts TAE Technologies to develop an algorithm for solving complex energy problems. Google and TAE Technologies, which calls itself “the world’s largest private fusion company”, are using the latter's giant ionised plasma machine C2-U to speed up experiments in plasma physics. TAE Technologies’ ultimate aim is to build the first fusion-based commercial power plant. The faster it can complete experiments, the faster and cheaper it can achieve this goal and move the world towards a more sustainable, clean energy source.