Household and community solar assessment calculator
The project has developed an assessment tool to help accelerate solar power installation.
Centre for Sustainable Energy
Summary: impacts and findings
The project has developed an assessment tool to help accelerate solar power installation. The online system speeds up decision processes by making the benefits of installing solar PV clearer for individual householders and for building owners such as local authorities.
Project aims and approach
To accelerate the growth of solar power, potential photovoltaic (PV) solar panel adopters locally need access to trusted information and support. Householders, community groups and local authorities all want accurate, independent information to identify the potential for rooftop PV on buildings and to assess the contribution that it could make.
This project built a web-based solar modelling tool (the Solar Wizard), which provides modelled estimates for solar generation potential and associated costs at individual building level, without the need for manual input of parameters such as roof size etc.
The tool is designed to make the benefits of installing solar PV clearer for individual householders and building owners, to accelerate decision-making and enable trusted community PV schemes to proliferate.
You can watch a short ‘show and tell’ presentation about this project below, recorded in September 2022. Start from timestamp 38:55.
- Centre for Sustainable Energy (lead)
- Bath & West Community Energy (BWCE)
July 2022 to March 2023
Achievements and barriers
This project has successfully created and demonstrated a solar potential model and associated web-based tool that covers the majority of England, Scotland and Wales.
It takes two forms: an freely-accessible service for householders assessing their own home, and a map-based paid-for service allowing users to explore the potential for solar PV deployment across every building in their local area. The individual building interface is now publicly available, and the mapping interface has been prepared so that it is ready to sell as part of a service package.
The main challenge for the project was the licensing requirements of some of the key datasets used by the tool. This has affected design and the way that the data can be shared; the business model has been developed with this in mind, and will be tested and refined further.
Lessons from the project included:
- Where innovations rely on licensed data, it is vital to discuss early with data holders how access can be best achieved.
- When promoting new tools and services to users it is important to be clear about any limitations so that user trust can be established and grow.
- To launch a service such as this, a gradual rollout and improvement process is likely to be more effective than a one-hit launch.
In the first instance, the Centre for Sustainable Energy intends to promote the tool as a paid-for service to local authorities.
For the future, it plans to continue the development of the tool to include further features and datasets such as Energy Performance Certificate data, grid constraint data and smart meter data. The solar model which underlies the Solar Wizard application has been made publicly available for others to use.