According to news on August 29, Google is planning to license new map data to a series of companies so that they can develop renewable energy products, and Google hopes to generate up to $100 million in revenue in the first year.
Leaked material shows that Google plans to sell access to a new API (application programming interface) that includes things like solar energy, energy information, and air quality.
Among a list of sample customers, Google’s new offering will include a solar API that can be used by solar installers such as SunRun and Tesla Energy, as well as solar design firms such as Aurora Solar. Google also sees opportunities to partner with real estate companies like Zillow and Redfin, hospitality companies like Marriott, and utilities like PG&E.
Some of the data for the Solar API will come from a consumer-facing pilot called Project Sunroof, a solar energy savings calculator that first launched in 2015. The program allows users to enter an address and get estimated solar costs, such as electricity savings and the size of the solar installation needed. It also provides 3D models of building roofs and nearby trees based on Google Maps data.
Google plans to sell API access to individual building data, as well as aggregated data for all buildings in a particular city or county. Google says it has data on more than 350 million buildings, far more than the 60 million buildings mentioned by Project Sunroof in 2017, according to the filing.
An internal document estimates that Google’s solar API will generate $90 million to $100 million (currently about 656 million to 729 million yuan) in revenue in its first year after launch. The document also mentions the possibility of future connections with Google Cloud products.
At the same time, Google also plans to release an air quality API that will allow customers to request location-specific air quality data, such as pollutants, and health-based recommendations. The API will also include digital heatmaps of the data, hourly air quality information, and up to 30 days of air quality history.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The move by Google is an attempt to monetize its mapping product under pressure from a broader economic slowdown. While Google is committed to improving efficiency, it is also investing in new technologies such as generative artificial intelligence and sustainability, which it hopes to use in the solar API project to develop markets.
Currently, Google licenses its navigation map API to companies such as Uber. Uber said in 2019 that it paid Google $58 million over three years. Revenue from the Maps API goes to Google’s cloud business, which finally turned profitable in the first quarter of this year but struggled to compete with market leaders Amazon and Microsoft.
Google doesn’t disclose revenue from its maps business, but according to Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak, Google Maps has been one of Google’s least profitable products. Morgan Stanley has estimated that with the addition of new travel products and promotional labels, Google Maps revenue will reach 11.1 billion US dollars (currently about 80.919 billion) this year.
Google’s plans to sell map data come as the company tries to streamline its map offering. In June of this year, the media discovered that Google was laying off employees of Waze, a free traffic navigation app, and merging it with the Google Maps team. Waze was acquired by Google in 2013.