Online Tool Tracks Solar Installations

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) launched a Web site, “The Open PV Project,” that will serve as an online tool for the photovoltaic (PV) market. It presents users with interactive maps and charts that display where PV panels are being installed, how big they are, how much they cost and how fast the industry is growing.

The Open PV Project is a database of PV installations, and it works on community involvement. The NREL intends to tool to collect, organize and distribute data for the location, size, cost and date of every PV installation in United States. But the NREL may be able to use your help. It is actively seeking contributions and is requesting for users to become a member and contribute any relevant data on solar installations.
“We’re building a community of users who are willing to share information about PV installations,” said Christopher Helm, a geographic information systems (GIS) developer and project manager for the Open PV project. “The project is a living, breathing and dynamic database that people can use to explore the U.S. PV market in essentially real-time.”

The Web site shows PV installation activity in the United States from 1998 to 2009. It can display statistics by state, town and even a specific neighborhood. And, with community involvement, it may grow to be the most complete online tool for finding solar installation data. So far, Open PV has catalogued more than 64,000 systems with a total capacity of about 733 megawatts.

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