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The Science of Solar
Posted by David Levine on Jan 3, 2015
We created a virtual world with solar panels on every rooftop in order to make it reality.

When you look up an address on Geostellar, you get an instant assessment of your home's solar energy potential along with the comparative benefits of cash, loan and lease solar energy plans. The whole thing looks pretty easy. It is for you; it wasn't for us. To give you instant answers, we perform a solar simulation that moves a virtual sun through the sky of a 3D landscape, checking how much sunlight reaches each spot of a roof every minute of the day, every day of the year based on both atmospheric patterns and shading from trees, structures and hills on the near and far horizon, all derived from remote sensing data. Then we fit virtual solar panels to the roof in the areas with the most sunlight, check the slope and orientation and figure out how much energy they would produce if installed. And it doesn't stop there. We compute the value of that energy by incorporating local utility rates, local, state and federal solar incentives and energy usage patterns into the simulation. Finally, we determine the carbon pollution that would be displaced by the virtual solar array by analyzing the mix of feedstocks (coal, natural gas, nuclear and renewables) on the regional utility grid. We pioneered this concept of 'big data geomatics,' the art and science of modeling real-world scenarios. We apply vast repositories of information gathered from satellites, airplanes, the electricity grid, solar panel manufacturers, solar installers, financial services institutions and public databases maintained by local, state and federal government agencies. We've created a virtual world with solar panels on every rooftop where we simulate the production of clean, renewable energy. We did it to help you make this world a reality.

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