An online ‘solar potential tool’ developed by the Australian Photovoltaic Institute (APVI) shows how much renewable energy could be generated by installing rooftop solar panels on Australian buildings. The solar savings calculator tool, known as SunSPoT, is free to use online.
It works by zooming in on a building and using a drawing tool to select a roof area. The APVI recently used the tool to measure and demonstrate potential energy cost savings in the ACT’s central Civic area.
SunSPoT uses a variety of data and methods to draw its conclusions. These include 3D building and vegetation models and also meteorological weather variables. It also considers the amount of rooftop area available, any nearby shading, and the tilt and orientation of panels.
From all this, the tool can measure the average solar radiation potential of a building. In addition, it can calculate the expected the solar panel performance of a typical solar system.
Potential for $14 million savings from three buildings
Recently the APVI used the tool to measure the solar potential of three commercial buildings in Canberra ACT. These were the ACT Legislative Assembly, the National Convention Centre and the Australian War Memorial.
The APVI looked at available roof-space in terms of size, orientation and also slope. They found that approximately 35 to 50 per cent of the roof spaces were suitable for solar panel installations. This is the equivalent of about 50 MW of renewable energy – enough to power around 400 homes. It also represents savings of about $14 million a year.
APVI board member Mike Roberts said in an ABC radio Canberra interview that Australia leads the world in terms of residential solar installations.
For example, last year there were around five million solar panel installations across the country. The APVI expects that twice that number will be installed in 2018.
APVI will extend SunSPoT solar savings calculator across Australia
However, Mr Roberts also said we are behind when it comes to the potential of commercial buildings, such as the three tested in Canberra.
At the moment SunSPoT only covers CBD areas of major Australian cities. The APVI is currently mapping other towns and regions and will gradually roll these out on SunSPoT.
In addition, Mr Roberts said we can expect to see many more Australian areas mapped on SunSPoT within the next 18 months.