Bruce Gao, 22, created the software when he was attending Canada’s Shad programme for exceptional high school students, The Star reported on Tuesday.
The idea to create the app came to him after he visited an orphanage in China where he saw children huddled together in beds to share body heat.
It was monsoon and the solar panels meant to provide electricity weren’t installed to their full capacity that rendered heating system in the building ineffective.
Once Gao made up his mind to do something about that, he researched how solar panels should be positioned to soak up the most energy.
The app SimplySola, which he developed along with a high-school classmate, works using a combination of GPS and the built-in compass in smartphones.
Users place their phones on top of the solar panels, and the app shows them when the panels are facing the most effective direction.
Pointing solar panels in the right direction can make them up to 40 per cent more effective, Gao said. The innovation is now being used in 130 countries.