New York City seems like it would be a difficult place to build a solar installation. But with so many buildings packed into a small area, the rooftops offer seemingly limitless potential.
A startup called Mapdwell, previously a Fast Company Innovation By Design award winner, has calculated how much.
Using its 3-D modeling and visualization technology combined with aerial data, it looks at more than one million buildings in New York City and identifies 11 gigawatts of “high yield photovoltaic potential” that could deliver over 13 million megawatt-hours per year. For those unfamiliar with energy terms like those, that’s equal to powering 1.2 million homes while offsetting the carbon emissions equivalent to planting more than 185 million trees, or $40 billion in business potential.
If you own a building, Mapdwell’s site, Solar System New York, makes it easier than ever to explore the benefits and costs of installing a solar system. It allows you to type in your address and it will visualize the solar opportunity, let you customize a system, and provides detailed information about costs, tax credits, and pay-off times. Currently, CEO Eduardo Berlin says, New York is a big solar market because of a combination of tax credits, incentive programs, and decreasing hardware costs. But there are other obstacles to solar in New York, especially because many residents and businesses don’t own their homes or the entire building where they live.
The Solar System tool is similar to Project Sunroof, a solar visualization tool which Google launched last week in Boston, San Francisco, and San Jose. Mapdwell, a company that spun out of MIT, has launched Solar System so far in nine cities, including Boston, Washington, DC, and Boulder, Colorado.
Note: Some of the figures in this post were corrected from their original version. Mapdwell’s original figures in a press release covered only part of NYC’s five boroughs.