Deep learning in the built environment: automatic detection of rooftop solar panels using Convolutional Neural Networks

Mapping the location and size of solar installations in urban areas can be a valuable input for policymakers and for investing in distributed energy infrastructures. Machine Learning techniques, combined with satellite and aerial imagery, allow to overcome the limitations of surveys and sparse databases in providing this mapping at large scale. In this paper we apply a supervised method based on convolutional neural networks to delineate rooftop solar panels and to detect their sizes by means of pixel-wise image segmentation. As input to the algorithm, we rely on high resolution aerial photos provided by the Swiss Federal Office of Topography. We explore different data augmentation and we vary network parameters in order to maximize model performance. Preliminary results show that we are able to automatically detect in test images the area of a set of solar panels at pixel level with an accuracy of about 0.94 and an Intersection over Union index of up to 0.64. The scalability of the trained model allows to predict the existing solar panels deployment at the Swiss national scale. The correlation with local environmental and socio-economic variables would allow to extract predictive models to foster future adoption of solar technology in urban areas.

Published in:
Journal of Physics: Conference Series, 1343
Presented at:
CISBAT 2019 | Climate Resilient Cities – Energy Efficiency & Renewables in the Digital Era, Lausanne, Switzerland, 4–6 September 2019
Nov 20 2019
IOP Science
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 Record created 2019-11-21, last modified 2020-10-26

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