The installation of rooftop solar panels to get the “green” electricity has become common these days, but all the roofs are not appropriate for this type of operation.

Scientists at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have developed a tool that uses the actual conditions of construction to determine the potential magnitude of the solar incidence – of an entire city, neighborhood, or a roof located. Scientists have taken the city of Gothenburg as a pilot project.

“The structures of the roof of a city can be more or less suitable for the installation of solar panels, depending on such factors as the amount of surface of a roof shaded by surrounding buildings (or vegetation), but also by the slope of the roof and the angle of incidence of sunlight. It is now possible for the first time to determine how many solar roofs in particular will receive during the year, “said Fredrik Lindberg, Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Gothenburg.

Scientists at the University of Gothenburg have been working with consultants WSP to develop a GIS system to calculate the real potential of solar energy roof. The system was named “SEES” – Solar Energy from Existing Structures [solar energy from the existing structures] – and will be distributed free of charge for companies and municipalities that request it.

The new tool is based on geographic information systems (GIS) that collect, store, analyze and display geographic data. This means that the tool models the roofs as they are in a trusted environment. The sun illuminates the model in the built environment in 3D and simulates the projection of the shadows of buildings, land and vegetation.

The effect of shadows can be calculated for each month or a full year, which means that parts of a roof may be unsuitable for collecting solar energy, although the roof appears to be both optimal in the direction and inclination. In this sense, it is possible to calculate the total solar radiation on each part of a roof structure in a given area calculated in kilowatt hours per square meter.

Thus, “SEES”, is able to provide a map of the most relevant, depending on the user’s needs for good, less good and bad implications solar year. Climate data (measured or calculated values) have a temporal resolution to the nearest hour.

“We used Göteborg as a city driver in the project, but the method can be implemented in all municipalities where data are available. Users can determine the relevance of a roof to install solar panels or heat through a wide range, “said Fredrik Lindberg.

The solar project was supported by the University of Gothenburg, in collaboration with the WSP Analys & Strategi. It was funded by the Solel, Research Foundation in Göteborg Energi, the administration of the planning of the city of Göteborg and the Västra Götaland Regional Council.

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