Solar Panel Map Highlights Most Suitable City Rooftops [Pics]

Solar Panel Map Highlights Most Suitable City Rooftops [Pics]

MIT project Mapdwell shows the potential of installing solar panels on every rooftop in the city.

Daniela Walker
  • 25 june 2013

Ever thought about solar-powering your house and saving some money whilst also going green? But where to begin? The process of solar paneling can be daunting to many average homeowners, so researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have launched a new, consumer-friendly website to help. Mapdwell provides ordinary people with a slew of vital data, presented in an accessible way, to make an informed decision about sustainable living. The Solar System tool shows the photovoltaic potential of every rooftop to determine where solar panels can best be placed.


The map, currently only available for Cambridge — with more cities forthcoming, uses the Google Maps API and overlays it with a complex framework to determine the best rooftops for solar panels. Various data is compiled, from shape and slope of the rooftop to the possibility of solar irradiation based on historical weather data, to determine the possibility of installing a photovoltaic (PV) system. Identified in varying shades from brown (poor PV potential) to yellow (good PV potential), a user can click on any address and see the cost of solar paneling, the yearly savings, the carbon offsets, the size of the necessary panels and the years before the investment pays back.

Screen Shot 2013-06-21 at 12.05.02 PM

It is an intuitive and simple way to approach a seemingly complex home improvement project. This is the first tool that Mapdwell has released, but the team hope to have several different modules to help consumers make decisions about sustainable living. In a statement, the company wrote:

Mapdwell’s mission is to provide information at the consumer level that will drive community awareness, sustainable practices, energy efficiency, and smart growth through the aggregate effort of individuals. We believe accurate, transparent, and unbiased information is a significant catalyst of positive change.


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