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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.
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.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Emily Deanne
Shower shoes? Check. Extra-long sheets? Yep. Energy efficiency checklist? No worries — we've got you covered there. If you're one of the nation's 12.1 million full-time undergraduate college students, you no doubt have a lot to keep in mind as you head off to school. If you're reading this, climate change is probably one of them, and with one-third of students choosing to live on campus, dorm life can have a big impact on the health of our planet. In fact, the annual energy use of one typical dormitory room can generate as much greenhouse gas pollution as the tailpipe emissions of a car driven more than 156,000 miles.
By Lorraine Chow
Kokia drynarioides is a small but significant flowering tree endemic to Hawaii's dry forests. Native Hawaiians used its large, scarlet flowers to make lei. Its sap was used as dye for ropes and nets. Its bark was used medicinally to treat thrush.
States that invest heavily in renewable energy will generate billions of dollars in health benefits in the next decade instead of spending billions to take care of people getting sick from air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, according to a new study from MIT and reported on by The Verge.
Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.
By Kristin Ohlson
From where I stand inside the South Dakota cornfield I was visiting with entomologist and former USDA scientist Jonathan Lundgren, all the human-inflicted traumas to Earth seem far away. It isn't just that the corn is as high as an elephant's eye — are people singing that song again? — but that the field burgeons and buzzes and chirps with all sorts of other life, too.
Humanity faced its hottest month in at least 140 years in July, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Thursday. The finding confirms similar analysis provided by its EU counterparts.
By Hans Nicholas Jong
Indonesia's president has made permanent a temporary moratorium on forest-clearing permits for plantations and logging.
It's a policy the government says has proven effective in curtailing deforestation, but whose apparent gains have been criticized by environmental activists as mere "propaganda."