Melbourne urban solar atlas

Client: Department of Sustainability and Environment (Victoria)
Location: Victoria, Australia
Date: February 2010 – December 2011

Developing an interactive solar mapping tool to promote better understanding of rooftop solar potential by energy consumers.


The Victorian government wanted to explore developing a web-based portal for examining the solar energy potential of residential properties in metropolitan Melbourne. The aim of the website was to enable objective assessment of the performance of photovoltaic panels and solar hot water systems. A specific requirement was to ensure that roof orientation, pitch and the impact of shadows were incorporated into the data modelling process.


Entura was engaged by the Department of Sustainability and Environment to develop a prototype ‘Urban solar atlas’ for metropolitan Melbourne. The first phase of the project involved determining if this was technically practical and financially feasible.

A 3D surface model was created from Lidar data covering buildings, vegetation and ground points to enable the solar analysis to consider shadows falling on roof sections throughout the year. Annual average solar values were pre-calculated at a 1 m point grid resolution by using a model corrected with long term Bureau of Meteorology solar data.

Entura also explored the opportunities for additional or alternative functionality of the ‘urban solar atlas’ as development progressed. For example, a function for considering rainfall capture and sizing rainwater tanks was also included to demonstrate the tool’s potential.


Entura demonstrated the solar atlas to interested stakeholders, including state and local government representatives, solar industry bodies and at a sustainability forum. The website was made available to various stakeholders for four months and received considerable interest.

We aimed to improve on what had been achieved elsewhere, and to produce an atlas that users were confident with when exploring solar energy opportunities.

The development of the atlas has changed the way that users are able to investigate the best location on their roof for solar panels or solar hot water systems, and empowers users to determine the potential annual cost savings and emissions savings of installing solar PV systems at an exact location.

Since the completion of the project, a number of Melbourne councils have used the solar resource data produced to develop their own tools for residents to access.