Platform to help councils make decisions on solar investment

A project that will inform decisions about how home owners and urban planners can make optimal use of solar power is being developed at the UNSW School of Photovoltaics and Renewable Energy Engineering.

The Energy Data for Smart Decision Making project will combine mapping with data on solar exposure, energy generation and consumption from precincts across Australia into an open modelling platform, SunSPoT.

The platform will enable users to calculate their solar power potential and make informed decisions on investment in solar power generation.

The project has key technology partners in Australian companies Solar Analytics and Enosi who contribute energy monitoring, data and an energy exchange platform. The team is working together to increase energy awareness and provide consumers with the information they need to make smart energy decisions.

SunSPoT was developed at UNSW by Dr Anna Bruce and Dr Jessie Copper, from the School of Photovoltaics and Renewable Energy Engineering. The interactive platform uses GIS data to estimate the technical potential of rooftop solar, accounting for the tilt of roof surfaces and shading at the site.

It can be used on a single rooftop, or to assess the potential across geographical areas, with analysis of Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney, discovering enormous untapped potential for solar power installations across a range of buildings. As solar PV continues to be deployed at record rates on Australian rooftops, such analysis can help councils and the electricity industry plan for the solar future.

Councils partner with UNSW and the APVI to have their local government area mapped. With the support of the Smart Cities and Suburbs funding and through technology partner Solar Analytics, SunSPoT will be further developed to incorporate half-hourly PV generation and electricity consumption data as well as retail tariffs and export (feed-in tariffs) [1]. This will provide free and independent information to help electricity consumers make better decisions about investments in PV and storage. The upgrades will also help consumers to select suitable retail tariffs for their circumstances.

The project is funded with $430,000 from the Australian Government's Smart Cities and Suburbs Program, and a further $462,000 from the Australian PV Institute, University of New South Wales and nine Councils, including Byron Bay NSW, Bendigo VIC, Ku-ring-gai NSW, Waverly NSW, Banyule VIC, Canterbury NSW, Bankstown NSW, Northern Beaches of Sydney NSW, Manningham, VIC, and Towong.

More information about the Smart Cities and Suburbs Program is here.

Councils interested in having their local government areas mapped should contact Dan Stevens, Community Development Manager with the APVI at sunspot@apvi.org.au.

More information about the Smart Cities and Suburbs Program is here.

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