Daily Archives: January 10, 2010

Solar Power Calculator released by NIWA in NZ

10th January 2010

Just quietly, and almost under the radar last month our National atmospheric organisation NIWA, released a great little solar calculator to benefit home owners view the potential for solar exactly where they live.

Called Solarview, its aim is to assist buyers considering a solar option……..or even new home builders with a view to better “solar advantaged” roof design / angle / placement.

NIWA’s free web browser based software tool tells you how much sunlight your home is receiving at different junctures of the year.

Created by NIWA scientist Ben Liley this program assists a home owner to calculate whether solar power is a viable option for their own individual needs.

As you can see on the screen above, you need to supply the program with your address.

Optionally, you can supply the compass direction your roof faces, and the roofs relevant angle.

Inbuilt into Solarview is specific local terrain situational awareness, visually approximating your entered address and taking into consideration hills, valleys, etc.

The press release continues…….

A homeowner, or their solar energy specialist, can use this information to determine what savings installation of solar panels or solar water heating would be likely to give. The tool can also help determine which part of a roof is best for solar energy given the unique surroundings and situation of the home.

On average, New Zealand receives about 2000 hours of bright sunshine each year. In energy terms, New Zealand’s solar energy resource is about four kilowatt hours per square metre, per day. To put that into perspective, if every New Zealand home had a three kilowatt solar panel array, they would collectively generate enough power in a year to satisfy over a quarter of New Zealand’s annual residential electricity needs.

Nelson, SolarCity that is, won the Sunshine crown for New Zealand in 2009, receiving over 2500 hours of sunshine last year so local residents should definitely be aware of the advantages offered, solar wise, by living in the region.

The program can even take into account other objects like depicted above.

How does the Solarview software tool work?

I’ll let NIWA explain that;

NIWA’s system uses Google Maps to find your latitude and longitude based on the address of your home. It combines this with topographical data and many years of climate data from the climate stations throughout New Zealand to give a month-by-month calculation of how much available solar energy will hit your roof throughout the year.

The program combines an image of the local landscape with irradiance data from the nearest climate station. This is typically more than 10 years of “sunlight hours” data. You should be able to recognise the local landscape for each location entered into the system. The x-axis of the plot is in degrees bearing, i.e.west (-90°), North (0°), and east (90°).

The 5 curves are the path of the sun on the 21 Dec (summer solstice) , 21 Jun (winter solstice), 21 Mar (autumn equinox), 21 Aug & 21 Oct  and the numbers indicate how much solar energy is available on that day.


To try it out for yourself – go here.

NIWA Solarview Page

NIWA 4th December 2009 “SolarView” Press Release

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