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Despite Many Gloomy Days, Chicago Could Be A Solar-Powered Game Changer

By Tanveer Ali | March 21, 2017 5:21am

CHICAGO — About two-thirds of Chicago's buildings could support solar panels for electricity, according to a new Google project.

Launched in 2015, Google's Project Sunroof recently expanded to include millions of buildings across America, including those in Chicago.

A first look at the site, which allows users to look into the solar potential of their own buildings, shows the city is a rather dreary place, especially around Downtown. (Also, remember January?)

Since 2014, 52 percent of days have had noticeable sunshine, according to data kept by the local National Weather Service bureau.

SEE THE FULL MAP (Yellow means most sunny. Brown means least sunny.):

Even though Chicago may be a relatively dark place compared to sun-drenched cities on the coasts, that doesn't mean that solar panels are a bad idea for buildings in Chicago.

Looking at roof sizes, shapes, overall sunshine, energy consumption and other factors, the project estimates that 67 percent, or 328,000 Chicago roofs, could help accommodate solar panels. That's compared to 29 percent of buildings in Philadelphia or 80 percent of buildings in Miami.

If Chicago had solar panels on all 328,000 roofs, we could produce an astounding 4400 megawatts of electricity. To put that in perspective, that would provide electricity to 3.3 million homes and cut 4.2 million metric tons in carbon dioxide emissions per year, the equivalent of 881,000 cars on the road.

Check out what the solar potential is of nearly every building in Chicago.