The SolaRise team, established by Serbian software engineering students, has developed a platform that utilizes artificial intelligence with just three clicks to provide comprehensive analysis and offers from solar panel installers for a specific location. All you need to do is enter your address into the platform, which will display the solar potential of your roof and the associated cost of installation.
Students from the Faculty of Technical Sciences at the University of Novi Sad in Serbia came in third in the RE-Hackathon competition. In an interview with Balkan Green Energy News, they discussed their experience in the competition and described their solution, which uses artificial intelligence to provide a comprehensive analysis for solar panel installation based on the address or location of the property.
The SolaRise team is made up of dedicated fourth-year software engineering students Tina Mihajlović, Milica Sladaković, Tamara Ilić, and Uroš Poček. Despite sharing the same field of study, these young and talented individuals each have different interests and abilities, making them highly diverse and complementary.
SolaRise: What truly connects us is our passion for generating new ideas
“What truly connects us is our passion for generating new ideas. We are always ready to discuss innovations and creative solutions, but what sets us apart is our ability to turn these ideas into concrete actions and achieve results,” team leader Uroš Poček said.
RE-Hackathon took place in November 2022 at the Scientific and Technological Park in Novi Sad. Participants created software solutions related to renewable energy sources, with an emphasis on solar energy, for 48 hours. The competition was organized as part of the project Promotion of renewable energy and energy efficiency in Serbia, carried out by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in collaboration with the Ministry of Mining and Energy.
Tina, how did you hear about the RE-Hackathon? Can you tell me more about the application and selection process, as well as how you reached the finals?
We applied to the hackathon through a web form that our university professors shared with us. The teams selected to compete were chosen, and while we didn’t know the exact criteria for selection, we weren’t too concerned about it. The most important thing was that we were chosen to compete. The competition lasted for two days, a weekend, during which we addressed challenges related to solar energy.
At the end of the second day, all teams presented their solutions to a jury of renewable energy experts. After the jury’s decision, our team won third place and the opportunity to further develop our idea.
Tamara, you, and your team won third place in last year’s hackathon. What motivated you to develop your artificial intelligence application?
Great startup ideas stem from a vision, and our vision was to make the process of obtaining a solar solution as easy as possible for people. We recognized the problem that, even though people are aware of the benefits of switching to renewable energy sources, they don’t do it, because they think it’s either too expensive or too complicated.
Switching to solar energy is much more accessible today
Both things are partially true, but the market has changed dramatically in the past five years, and the transition to solar energy is much more accessible. We established our vision and clearly defined the problem we wanted to solve. The only thing left was to figure out how to use our skills to contribute to solving this important problem.
Milica, how did your startup idea come about?
During the hackathon competition, as we brainstormed solutions, we focused on how to simplify the process of obtaining a quote and a comprehensive analysis specifically for one’s roof. With some creative thinking and several iterations with mentors, we arrived at our final design.
We only require users to enter the address of the property where they want to install solar panels, and we use satellite imagery and our AI magic to handle the rest. We presented this to the jury and users, and they were thrilled.
So, from a raw idea, we developed SolaRise, allowing everyone to get a complete analysis and a quote from installers for mounting solar panels on their property in just three clicks, using our artificial intelligence model. This is the beginning of our SolaRise story. We are now continuing to refine our model, improve the accuracy of roof measurements, and seek partners to enter the market. So, if we’ve piqued your interest, feel free to contact us.
Uroš, what are the team’s next steps? Do you plan further development or similar projects? Are there interested parties for your prototype?
As for our next steps, we are full of ideas and enthusiasm to expand our product further, and that’s something we are currently working on. There is interest from various parties. Even during the ideation phase, we contacted companies in the industry and asked them questions that shaped our solution. Our goal was to address a real problem that panel manufacturers and sellers face, so their feedback is always invaluable.
Providers of solar panel installation services are our primary customers. Our software gives them a way to streamline the planning process for their customers, attract new users with quality service, and simplify their work in the initial stage of assessing a potential customer’s roof for panel installation. We hope to have our MVP product officially tested soon.