SunSPoT app finds sweet spot to install solar panels

UNSWUniversity of New South Wales commits to 100% renewable energy

The University of NSW (UNSW) has officially launched SunSPoT, a free online tool that enables users to calculate their rooftop’s solar power generation potential.

The Australia Photovoltaics Institute (AVPI) developed the tool, with ARENA providing the initial funding.

UNSW said the project provides an example of how collaborations can occur between governments, research organisations and the private sector to deliver viable solutions.

How SunSPoT solar power generation potential tool works

The program allows residents to hone in on a building’s rooftop using a map and drawing tools. It works by estimating the solar power potential of the selected rooftop, taking several factors into account.

These include solar radiation, weather, space available for solar panels, roof surface tilt, orientation and shading. The tool also allows for different seasons and impact of the sun and shadows through a ‘shadow layer’.

Solar power generation potential: MCG showing midday shadowing at winter solstice.Orange areas receive the most sunlight

The Melbourne Cricket Ground showing midday shadowing during the winter solstice. Areas in orange are receiving the most sunlight. Image: SunSPoT

From the collected data the program brings up a ‘results panel’. This displays the estimated size of a solar PV system that can be installed on the roof area selected. It also displays the annual AC energy output, estimated annual savings (based on typical bills) and expected CO2 emissions reductions.

The user can also use the tool to calculate the solar potential of different sections of the roof. It can also measure the solar potential of rack-mounted systems, such as on a low-angled or flat rooftop.

The SunSPoT tool could help households and businesses test out scenarios and make better-informed decisions about investing in solar panels.

In addition, the tool could benefit users interested in solar storage batteries. They could use it for example to help determine the size and type of solar battery they require to store unused solar power for later use.

Expansion of SunSPoT program across Australia

At present the tool is available for use for buildings in six Australian capital cities as well as some northern Sydney regions. Roll-out to other areas will occur as the program expands and more mapping takes place.

The AVPI is currently working with several councils to map their local government areas. It has also invited other councils interested in having their area mapped to contact the organisation.