A new twist on homegrown aerial mapping technology is targeting Australia’s rooftop solar industry, offering PV installers the ability to provide customers with instant and highly accurate quotes, as well as month by month power output and energy savings reports, without leaving the office.
Launched on Thursday, Nearmap Solar – a spin-off of ASX-listed technology upstart Nearmap – will use the company’s PhotoMaps technology platform and measurement tools to place virtual solar panels on high-resolution images of prospective customers’ roofs, calculate energy output and generate a detailed solar report, saving installers time and resources and giving them a much-needed competitive edge.
The new application features a library of more than 1,000 Clean Energy Council (CEC) approved solar panel templates and the ability to add and define additional custom panels. It can also be used for prospecting, preparing designs and installations as well as for post-install audits.
The company says its photos have higher clarity and are updated more regularly than any of the free alternatives. It covers Australia’s main cities, using images that are updated monthly, and new data is made available in a matter of hours.
Nearmap’s online geospatial mapping business has gone from strength to strength over the past 18 months, after a decision in November 2012 to abandon free content in favour of annual subscriptions to businesses based on five or more users.
The company’s CEO, Simon Crowther, whose background is in digital publishing, told a News Limited newspaper last year that, while the media industry has struggled to wean internet users off free content, Nearmap’s strategy resulted in a dramatic cashflow turnaround.
Since then, the company’s major business has been to gather high resolution images and digital elevation data and serve it online to government agencies, and big and small business and industry for use in asset and infrastructure planning and management.
Australia’s burgeoning rooftop solar industry is the latest target market. For PV installers, the company says the images would be accurate enough to measure a roof, identify seasonal shadowing, see foliage encroachment on a remote asset, or monitor asset deterioration over time.
Users could also use the technology platform to create time-lapse animation, create virtual tours and save videos in multiple formats.