Ever been curious about exactly what is going on with solar installations here in the United States? A new online tool being made more visible by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory NREL), a national lab of the U.S. Department of Energy, will now let you explore solar trends nationally in an interactive fashion.
The Open PV (photovoltaic) Project tool, according to the NREL, hosts a “bevy of maps and charts that can let anyone know where PV panels are being installed, how big they are, how much they cost and how fast the industry is booming.” One can find, for example, “a dynamic time map showing PV installation activity in the U.S. from 1998 to 2009” or make use of a mapping feature to “call up any state in the nation to see graphs on the number of PV installations, cost and capacity over time.” States can be compared against one another in variables such as ” cost, number of installations and growth,” and the same types of comparisons can even be done for counties or zip codes within each state.
In keeping with the name Open PV, geographers in the Data Analysis and Visualization Group within the Strategic Energy Analysis Center at NREL developed this tool so that one can contribute their own PV data. As an example, “an installer might upload the information that he has put PV on 200 homes, or perhaps a county energy commission will report the total installations for a three-month period.” Massachusetts recently posted data on 1,500 PV installs without any prompting. NREL says the Open PV Project has been online since October has, to date, “catalogued more than 64,000 systems with a total capacity of about 733 megawatts.”
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