Jan Kleissl, Environmental Engineering professor at the San Diego University of California, has been working with his Ph.D. student Matt Lave and other students at the UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering at the improvement of the solar map for the state of California, turning Google Earth into an accessible partner.
The growing interest for solar power and solar photovoltaic systems (PV) across the U.S. has made it necessary for solar-predictability systems and methods to emerge. Solar panels not only need instalment, but also adjustments and proper orientation for an optimum harvesting of energy.
A simple use of Google solar-prediction map of California enables users (homeowners or any PV installers) not only to optimize the placement of their sun panels, but also to predict how much energy a solar installation could generate. Google Maps features a special interface and a real-time computation system for customized tilting angles.
“Probably the most important result of this work for California is that in all coastal areas (Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego) it is advantageous to install the panels facing about 10-degrees west of south,” Kleissl said. “This not only optimizes energy production, but it also improves the correlation of solar power production with the load.”
Economy is the strong point of the process.” Wholesale energy prices during the peak time may be 10 times those during other days. In a future with more variable electricity rates this margin may tip the balance of economics in favour of solar energy and there will be greater incentives for installing panels facing southwest. Our maps show that there are already benefits of doing so now, as the energy generation increases,” Kleissl said.