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Project to Map 'Every U.S.Commercial Rooftop' for Solar Potential


April 20, 2012 -

Satellite imagery company GeoEye has teamed up with Geostellar in a partnership that aims to map and catalog the photovoltaic solar potential of every commercial and residential property in the United States.

Under terms of the agreement, GeoEye will supply Earth imagery, digital surface models and other mapping data to help Geostellar expand its existing service. Herndon, Virginia-based GeoEye also intends to take a small equity stake in the company.

Analytics startup Geostellar uses big data tools to model a property’s roof slope, shadows and weather patterns, combined with local utility rates and incentives, to determine how quickly a property owner can recoup an investment in solar energy. Solar installers and utilities use the data service to target potential customers. Clean energy developers also can use the information to  determine whether a potential site makes economic sense.

Geostellar has already built solar maps in Washington D.C., Boston, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and New Jersey, all cities that have made aerial imagery publicly available.

GeoEye will help the analytics company collect and process massive amounts of Earth imagery data and provide the information required to develop solar maps for every key metropolitan market in the U.S., according to terms of the agreement.

GeoEye senior vice president of marketing Tony Frazier said the company is constantly searching for ways Earth imagery and other forms of geospatial data can be used. For example, it recently signed a multi-year contract with GE Aviation to produce aviation reference data to serve hundreds of the world’s busiest airports. It also has used its satellite imagery to map archeological sites, manage forests and aid anti-terrorism surveillance.