The APVI Solar Potential Tool (SunSPoT) is an online tool for estimating the potential for electricity generation from PV on building roofs in Australian cities. The tool accounts for solar radiation and weather at the site; PV system area, tilt, orientation; and shading from nearby buildings and vegetation.
More information about the data and methodology used can be found here.
SunSPoT has been developed by the Australian PV Institute (APVI) as part of the APVI’s Solar Mapping research project, and funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.
More information on this and other APVI research projects can be found here.
APVI’s Solar Map has been developed as a preliminary information tool and is no substitute to an on-site assessment performed by a certified professional. The results from the tool are only an estimate and may be inaccurate due to incomplete or out of date building models and GIS data.
Shadow layers displaying shadows at solar noon for the Equinox, Winter Solstice or Summer Solstice. These layers can be used to determine which surfaces will be impacted by shading at different times of the year.
An insolation heat map displaying the average level of solar radiation (insolation) in kWh/m2/day. This layer can be used to quickly visualise the solar potential of different building surfaces. Surfaces highlighted in red provide the best options for solar. A key to the insolation heat map is shown beside the insolation slider.
The map background can be switched between satellite and street view, to assist locating a building of interest. Zoom to your place of interest by double clicking on the map, or using the zoom (+/-) buttons. Manually zoom and pan to locate your specific building of interest. The maximum zoom available is zoom level 20.
To visualise the data available within the map, adjust the opacity sliders (from 0 to 100%) for each of the data layers. The data layers available are listed above.
After using the data layers to visualise your building’s solar potential, you can draw a shape over an area of interest on a single roof surface, and then simulate the annual PV output that would be expected over that area.
Select the “Draw a polygon” or “Draw a rectangle” tool.
You will need to use either the insolation or a shadow layer as the background image to accurately identify building surface edges. The underlying satellite imagery contains distortions due to, for example, camera angle. The data layers are based on accurate 3D building models, which do not contain distortions and display distances accurately. Therefore offsets between the satellite imagery and the data layers exist. Use of the data layers (either insolation or shadow layers) will ensure that a shape is drawn in the correct location for simulation of PV output.
It is important to draw your polygon/rectangle across a single roof surface. Polygon/rectangles drawn across multiple surfaces will lead to inaccurate calculations. Each surface of a building will need to be investigated separately.
After drawing your area of interest, the results panel will appear on the right-hand side of your screen. The panel will by default display the results for a flush mounted PV system (which is mounted in parallel to the roof surface, with an air gap of approximately 10 cm between the PV panels and the roof). You can switch to a rack-mounted PV system at an alternative tilt and orientation.
The simulation results include:
You have the ability to adjust both the calculated System size in kW and the price of electricity in cents per kWh.
It is difficult to estimate the financial savings that could result from the installation of a PV system. Financial savings will be dependent on the electricity tariffs that your energy retailer offers, in addition to the amount of energy you import from or export to the electricity grid, which is dependent on the time of day that you use electricity.
For roof surfaces with tilt angles below 15°, the user has the ability to investigate the output from a rack mounted PV system. To utilise this option click on the “Rack mounted” option and adjust the “Orientation” and “Tilt” slide bars to the angles you wish to investigate. The calculations will update automatically with each adjustment of the slide bars.
SunSPoT uses 3D building and vegetation models from AAM and Typical Meteorological Year (TMY) weather data from the US Department of Energy Simulation Software Weather Data webpage to calculate average annual and monthly incident solar radiation on a building surface and the expected performance of a typical PV system of the size specified by the user, with PV panel orientation and tilt defaulting to that of the roof surface, or defined by the user.
The tool accounts for solar radiation and other weather variables at the site, and shading impacts of surrounding buildings and vegetation. Detailed information about the data and methodology used in SunSPoT can be found here.
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