This week, the engine that powers Clean Power Estimator® calculated its 20-millionth solar estimation (at least since we started counting). This marks a milestone for Clean Power Research and is a bellwether of industry growth. Since it launched in 1998, the rate of estimations has grown exponentially, and that trend continues strongly, even in the face of a difficult economy and declining incentives. You can see the number of estimations made to date on our homepage.

Solar enthusiasts have likely run across Clean Power Estimator, although they may not know it by that name. So, to mark this milestone, I thought I’d share four frequently asked questions about Clean Power Estimator.

  1. What is Clean Power Estimator?
    If you’ve ever considered installing PV system and used a solar calculator on the website of a solar manufacturer, financier or installer, or an energy agency or utility, chances are high that it was powered by Clean Power Estimator. Likewise, if you’ve ever received a quote for a PV system, chances are also good that it was created using Clean Power Estimator. Designed to provide fast, personalized estimates, Clean Power Estimator is ideal for quickly assessing whether a solar system is a good financial investment with just a few inputs – generally ZIP code and annual energy use. Today it’s found on dozens of solar web sites, making it possible for anyone to evaluate whether solar might be a good option for them, and generating qualified leads. With more specific inputs such as system specifications and load profiles, Clean Power Estimator is able to generate detailed, accurate quotes that customers and financiers rely on.
  2. Why was it developed?
    The first version of Clean Power Estimator was introduced in 1998. At that time, Tom Hoff, founder of Clean Power Research, was pioneering the models used across the industry today to evaluate solar. One day a neighbor asked him whether or not solar would be a good investment for him. Tom realized there was a need to make it easy for anyone to access these models, as well as the solar resource, electric rate, incentive and equipment data needed for an accurate analysis. Tom used his software and solar background to develop a solar calculator that would produce instant and repeatable results…and Clean Power Estimator was born.
  3. How does it work?
    Clean Power Estimator takes advantage of a variety of proprietary databases maintained by Clean Power Research, including nationwide electric tariff, solar incentive and PV equipment databases, combined with a PV production simulator – all hosted in our datacenter. This makes for a turnkey service that is highly scalable and reliable.
  4. Can it be customized?
    Yes, via the Clean Power Estimator API. It can be integrated into your web-based software applications to handle simple or complex calculations. You decide how your application looks and functions, and Clean Power Estimator handles the heavy lifting – calculating the financial, energy and environmental impacts of specific projects.

Although it took years to hit the 20-million mark, at the current rate, it’s going to take a fraction of that time to reach the 40-million mark. Try performing your own solar estimation for your home or business – you might be surprised by the results! To find a calculator, type ‘Clean Power Estimator’ into your favorite search engine.