When It Comes To Solar, Republicans And Dems Are Closer Than Thought
(3BL Media/Justmeans) - New breakthrough research by clean energy consultants PowerScout has found that Democrat donors are not racing ahead of Republicans in the U.S. by as large a margin as most of us would intuitively assume to be the case.
PowerScout used a database of 1.5 million Democratic and Republican donors in the top 20 solar states, California and Arizona taking the top slots. The company used its own A.I.-based image recognition model to determine which rooftops had solar panels on them. This process was carried out using satellite images.
It found that 3.06% of Democratic donors and 2.24% of Republican donors in those states had gone solar. In some states, such as Hawaii, Republicans even beat Democrats in the solar stakes.
To access all this donor information, PowerScout started with the publicly available list of donors to both parties and candidates, zooming in on the most relevant states. The addresses listed include a range of data such as work addresses, PO Boxes and apartments.
To arrive at more relevant results, PowerScout focused on the addresses that can support rooftop, which excludes, for instance, donors that live in single family homes. The number of relevant homes they were left with was 1.5 million homes: 1 million Democratic donors and 500,000 Republican donors.
The images were processed with a machine learning model called a convolutional neural network (CNN), a sort of "computerized version of the part of the human brain that helps us see," PowerScout says. It trained the model with hundreds of thousands of labeled images of homes with and without solar panels until the model was able to distinguish between the two types. This way, PowerScout can now process thousands of images at a time to determine which homes have solar and which ones do not.
To see the larger version of the infograph, go here.
Image credit: PowerScout