Google Wants to Sell Pollution Data and Expects $100M In Revenue

CNBC's Jen Elias joins 'Closing Bell Overtime' with news that Google will start selling Maps data to solar energy companies.

Google is gearing up to sell its mapping data to companies involved in solar product development, with the aim of generating an anticipated $100 million in its inaugural year, according to insider sources reported by CNBC.

The tech giant intends to offer fresh sets of mapping APIs to various enterprises for incorporation into renewable energy-focused products. The APIs will encompass details concerning solar and energy aspects, as well as air quality information. Notably, Google possesses data on over 350 million buildings, as detailed in documents disclosed to CNBC.

Among the planned APIs is the Solar API, anticipated for use by entities like SunRun and Tesla Energy, along with solar design firms such as Aurora Solar. In addition to this, Google is eyeing potential customers in real estate (Zillow, Redfin), hospitality (Marriott Bonvoy), and utilities (PG&E).

Significant portions of data within the Solar API are drawn from Project Sunroof, a consumer-centric initiative launched in 2015. Project Sunroof functions as a solar cost estimation tool that uses Google Maps data to offer insights such as savings on electric bills and the required solar installation dimensions. The API's offerings span individual building data, as well as aggregated data for specific cities or counties.

Projections outlined in internal documents indicate that Google's solar APIs could amass revenue ranging between $90 million and $100 million during the first year post-launch. There's also a future possibility of integration with Google Cloud products.

Alongside the Solar API, Google plans to introduce an Air Quality API that grants users access to air quality data, including pollutant information and health-based suggestions for particular locations. It will also feature digital heat maps and real-time air quality updates, extending to a historical overview of air quality for up to a month.

This revenue venture coincides with Google's broader strategy to monetize its mapping products, driven by the need to bolster earnings amidst an economic downturn. Simultaneously, the company is investing in innovations such as generative AI and sustainability, leveraging the potential of its Solar API to tap into the growing renewable energy sector.

Currently, Google licenses its mapping APIs to entities like Uber for navigation purposes. Although specifics regarding Google Maps' revenue remain undisclosed, it has historically been considered an under-monetized segment within the company. The recent focus on monetization aligns with Morgan Stanley's 2021 estimate that Google Maps could generate up to $11.1 billion through new travel products and increased ad revenue.

This initiative is also part of Google's effort to streamline its mapping products, evidenced by its consolidation of traffic-reporting app Waze with the Google Maps team in a bid to optimize its mapping offerings.