A white man in builder's safety clothing installs a large solar panel on the roof of a house.
The new tool aims to boost the uptake of rooftop solar. Image: EDF

The Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE), a UK charity, has launched Solar Wizard, an online tool to help homeowners, communities, and local authorities evaluate their potential for rooftop solar.

Solar Wizard consists of two services. The first is a free, public-facing tool wherein users enter their postcode to receive a simple summary of how much energy solar panels on their roof could generate, how much they may cost to install, and how quickly they could make up installation costs through savings on their energy bills.

The second tool allows local councils and larger district, unitary and county authorities to understand the viability of solar panels for their public buildings and assess how solar could benefit their climate emergency responses.

“Transforming how we generate and use energy is crucial for tackling climate change, but many people don’t know where to start and there is a lot of misinformation and mistrust about solar panels and other technologies” said Jacob Hall, local area engagement project manager at CSE. “Solar Wizard breaks down these barriers by providing everyone with a free, quick, and easy way to assess their solar potential right at their fingertips.”

He added: “Our mapping interface is designed to support local authorities on their decarbonisation journeys. The map highlights those buildings with the best solar potential and supports business case development through financial modelling.”

Boosting rooftop solar

With large scale solar farms an increasingly controversial topic among those who argue that land should be prioritised for agriculture, rooftop solar is having something of a moment in the sun.

A recent funding round by the UK government has allowed the installation of solar panels on public buildings across the UK, including hospitals, schools, and community organisations. Meanwhile, the Scottish Government has removed planning permission requirements for rooftop solar installations in an effort to boost uptake of the technology.

Community-owned solar energy is seeing success in some areas of the country, with Bristol Energy Cooperative recently launching a new share offer to raise £1 million, which will be used to bring an additional 1MW of solar energy to the cooperative’s portfolio.

However, community solar is still facing significant barriers. Speaking at the UK Solar Summit in London earlier this month, Connie Duxbury, founder of Croydon Community Energy and community manager at Younity, argued that a “lack of awareness” is holding back the community solar energy sector in the UK.