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Going Solar Has Never Been Easier Thanks to Google Earth

It just got a whole lot easier to decide whether or not to get solar panels for your roof. Google's Project Sunroof site will help you locate your home, see how much sun it gets on average and what you could save if you purchased panels.


The project was initially launched in 2015, but has become more popular as solar technology gets more affordable. Google uses a combination of Google Maps, Google Earth and machine learning technology to calculate the sun's path to give an accurate account of your solar situation. It then uses industry standard models to tell you the cost benefit analysis of going solar.

The project is still in progress, but 60 million buildings have been analyzed across 50 states. From that information alone, Google was able to calculate that 79 percent of all rooftops could go solar and in Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico, 90 percent of homes are viable. Houston, Texas has the most viability as a whole with an estimated 18,940 gigawatt-hours of solar generation from rooftops per year.

According to Google, "If the top 10 cities below reached their full rooftop solar potential, they'd produce enough energy to power 8 million homes across the U.S."

Google

Once homeowners see the potential, they can use the site to see how much they will save on their monthly electricity bill based on typical utility rates in their location, as well as annual savings. The site then tells users how much square footage of solar panels to get and how to finance them.

There's even a function to see what an entire community could save should they collectively decide to go solar. For example, in Fresno, California, 92 percent of the rooftops are viable and if they reached full solar capacity, it would be equivalent to taking 261,000 cars off the road each year or planting 31 million trees.

It's still a common misconception that solar is too expensive or that an area doesn't get enough sunny days. Now, homeowners can see for themselves what their potential is and make a more conscious decision about where their energy comes from.

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Stinkhorns, Truffles, Smuts: The Amazing Diversity—and Possible Decline—of Mushrooms and Other Fungi

By Alexander Weir

"Whatever dressing one gives to mushrooms ... they are not really good but to be sent back to the dungheap where they are born."

French philosopher Denis Diderot thus dismissed mushrooms in 1751 in his " Encyclopedie." Today his words would be dismissed in France, where cooks tuck mushrooms into crepes, puff pastry and boeuf Bourguignon (beef Burgundy), to name just a few dishes.

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Cell Phone Radiation Risks: California Issues Groundbreaking Guidelines

By Olga Naidenko

This week, California officially issued groundbreaking guidelines advising cell phone users to keep phones away from their bodies and limit use when reception is weak. State officials caution that studies link radiation from long-term cell phone use to an increased risk of brain cancer, lower sperm counts and other health problems, and note that children's developing brains could be at greater risk.

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Celebrating the Biggest Conservation Wins of 2017

It's been a big year for conservation.

Together we assured the world that the U.S. is still an ally in the fight against climate change through the We Are Still In movement, a coalition of more than 2,500 American leaders outside of the federal government who are still committed to meeting climate goals. WWF's activists met with legislators to voice their support for international conservation funding. And we ensured that Bhutan's vast and wildlife-rich areas remain protected forever through long-term funding.

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3 Extreme Weather Events in 2016 'Could Not Have Happened' Without Climate Change, Scientists Say

Three of 2016's extreme weather events would have been impossible without human-caused climate change, according to new research.

The Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society published a collection of papers Wednesday focused on examining the effect of climate change on 27 extreme weather events last year. The research found that climate change was a "significant driver" in 21 of these weather disasters, and that three events—the temperatures making 2016 the hottest year on record, the heat wave over Asia in the spring, and a "blob" of extremely warm water in the Pacific—"could not have happened" without climate change.

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These Butterflies Have Lawyers

By John R. Platt

Don't mess with Texas butterflies. They have lawyers.

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The price of offshore wind energy has dropped significantly in recent years. Wikimedia Commons

Netherlands Launches Landmark Zero-Subsidy Wind Power Auction

The Netherlands has launched the world's first “zero subsidy" tender on Friday to build 700 megawatts of offshore wind. Shortly after the announcement, the country already found its first bidder.

Zero subsidy tenders have been labeled as a “game-changer" for the sector because it means that potential bidders would rely solely on wholesale electricity prices without financial aid from the government.

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World's Largest Solar-Wind-Storage Plant Planned for India

A wind, solar and battery storage plant is being planned for the southeastern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, which has faced power woes in recent months due to grid failure.

The renewable energy facility will consist of 120 megawatts of solar, 40 megawatts of wind, 20-40 megawatt-hours of battery backup and will be spread over 1,000 acres in the district of Anantapur.

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