At a Glance

What they wanted to do:

  • Develop solar energy projects in a more eco-friendly way
  • Reduce costs
  • Improve collaboration among customers and other collaborators

What they did:

  • Implemented Google Earth Pro for designing solar arrays for residential and commercial customers

What they accomplished:

  • Reduced travel and carbon footprint
  • Saved tens of thousands of dollars each month through virtual design and analysis
  • Provided precise, visual models for customers as well as collaborators

"Google Earth Pro has become indispensable for us. It is the first tool we turn to in developing residential and commercial solar projects, and it has reinvented the way we do business."

—Kevin Bassalleck, Director of Commercial Project Development

About Google Earth Pro

Google Earth Pro extends the power of Google Earth with additional capabilities designed specifically for business users. Reduce company software costs and save employee time with features designed to share geographic information on top the world’s most comprehensive mapping database including high-resolution and street-level imagery. Google Earth Pro also lets you overlay complex GIS data, print high-resolution scenes for reports, and measure area and radius for site analysis using the version of Google Earth designed specifically for commercial purposes.

For more information, visit www.earth.google.com/pro

"With Google Earth Pro, we do far less traveling, as we reduce our fuel consumption and carbon footprint. That helps us operate in line with our primary mission - benefiting the environment."

—Kevin Bassalleck, Director of Commercial Project Development

Consolidated Solar Tech saves tens of thousands each month while becoming more eco-friendly with Google Earth Pro

Business

When homeowners and businesses want to save money on electricity bills, take advantage of tax credits, or simply do what’s right for the environment, they often turn to Consolidated Solar Tech. The company offers turnkey services from professional design and engineering to procurement and installation of photovoltaic (PV) solar systems for residential, commercial and utility-scale customers.

Challenge

While designing and installing a solar energy system may seem as easy as plugging in an array, the process is actually quite complex. With each of their installations, Consolidated Solar Tech applies a wealth of sophisticated knowledge and synthesizes a number of variables unique to each site. CST’s first step is to evaluate potential rooftop or ground-based locations, determining suitability and feasibility, and to estimate the size of the array. This includes analysis of mechanical obstructions – air conditioners, vents, or pipes, to name a few. It also requires consideration of sunlight obstructions such as trees or buildings that that may cause shading.

The next step is to provide a preliminary financial analysis for prospective customers based on electricity consumption and budgets. Then there’s the matter of aesthetics: Customers want to be able to preview how their PV array will look so that they’re sure to be satisfied with the final results.

Traditionally, the process of analyzing all these variables involved physical travel to each site and "back-of-the-envelope" calculations. "The old-school way to initially evaluate a potential solar installation was to have someone drive out to the client’s location, get on the site or up on the roof, and manually document and measure everything," says Kevin Bassalleck, Director of Commercial Project Development for Consolidated Solar Tech. "This approach is neither cost-efficient nor eco-friendly. We needed to save time and money and run the business in a more environmentally progressive way."

Solution

Bassalleck had been using Google Earth personally since the day it was introduced, based on his interest in the potential for Google Earth for renewable energy projects. When Consolidated Solar Tech was formed in 2008, he began using Google Earth Pro to forge a more efficient wayto design and engineer solar energy systems. With its accessible, intuitive interface, Google Earth Pro had an immediate impact on the business, helping Bassalleck quickly enhance productivity.

Using Google Earth Pro, Bassalleck acquires high-resolution images, and makes area and radius measurements – before he ever visits a site. Measurement tools in Google Earth Pro allow him to analyze specific sites in granular detail, including measuring the distance to utility connectivity, or determining the radius within which he can hire electricians to qualify for federal stimulus funding.

He then continues using Google Earth Pro throughout the whole process – from evaluating potential sites to analyzing array locations and sizes, and even uses the "timeline" feature to create videos to show how natural drainage arroyos or other site conditions will change over time. Once he has acquired a high-resolution image from Google Earth Pro, Bassalleck imports it into an imaging program, where he retouches each aerial image. Using the imaging program, he then builds GPS coordinates into the model from Google Earth Pro, making it easy to design solar array projects to scale.

Results

Consolidated Solar Tech reports that Google Earth Pro has become essential for streamlining design and for collaborating with many customers, engineers, architects, and other important partners. "Google Earth Pro has become indispensable for us," says Bassalleck. "It is the first tool we turn to in developing residential and commercial projects, and it has reinvented the way we do business. It helps us save time, cut costs, and stay green by letting us design the preliminary array before we make a visit to the home or commercial business."

For Consolidated Solar Tech, the benefits to the bottom line in terms of reduced travel and less time spent out of the office are obvious advantages, but the company is also satisfied that it can now "walk the walk" by becoming more eco-friendly. Says Bassalleck, "With Google Earth Pro, we do far less traveling, as we reduce our fuel consumption and carbon footprint. That helps us operate in line with our primary mission – benefiting the environment."