As the national mapping agency of Great Britain, Ordnance Survey (OS) is looking to launch a new generation of 3D products over the next few years and are keen to test and validate the value of 3D models, in particular with photovoltaic (PV) suitability assessments (Ordnance Survey 2012). Current desktop methods to assess a property for PV suitability are crude, unreliable and mostly two-dimensional. The argument presented in this paper concerns the capacity of 3D geographic information (GI) to enhance the desktop evaluation assessment of property suitability for photovoltaic panels.
Qualitative interviews were used to gather data on potential users, forming a specification of their needs which consequently framed the development of a prototype solar panel positioning tool. The resulting tool presented an alternative, robust and 3D method of assessing a property for PV suitability, demonstrating the analytical potential of OS 3D data. This study offers an unconventional approach to PV analysis which could be incorporated into a wider renewable technology suitability assessment toolkit. This paper presents the results from the interviews and the prototype solar panel positioning tool.