The IRENA global atlas is a large international initiative, putting you a click away from major data sources to estimate your solar and wind potentials. This is an example on the region, showing the average winds calculated over 30 years, all protected areas, and population density every 1km. Zoom in, and start looking into areas of interest. You can even add your own data to improve the analysis.
The Atlas does not replace a ground measurement campaigns, but it can help you explore for suitable sites at which ground measurements can be done. Some tools are under development to help you assess resource potentials in particular areas. This is an example of an existing tool which gives you access to historic values of the resource for every location. Some more advanced features allow you to perform site ranking, or highlight opportunity areas, for further investigation. The interface is very flexible, and even lets you create your own project, pulling data from a catalog of 300 wind and solar resource maps.
The Atlas can help you answer many important questions. What share of energy needs can be supplied by renewables? What is the best combination of renewable technologies? Where are the best renewable resources located? How much investment is needed to develop these resources? How many jobs would be created? Is the market big enough to support a dedicated supply chain?
Once the physical resource in an area or country is understood, it is possible to overlay technical factors like available infrastructure to determine the technical potential. And then it is possible to do economic analysis, as a function of wind and solar resources, wind and solar technology costs, and costs of conventional energy, to assess where development of renewable resources is likely to be cost effective. There are also tools to guesstimate promising areas based on physical resource elements, and then, if there are no obvious reasons those areas can’t be developed, to do detailed resource measurements that lenders and investors could use directly to assess whether renewable energy development at those sites would be profitable.
The Global Atlas will highlight the areas of most interest for further investigation – for example the areas where detailed measurements, if undertaken, are most likely to reveal an attractive wind or solar resource to bankers and investors. The Global Atlas intends to gather the best information available worldwide, and continuously improve the datasets, through strong technical partnerships. And it intends to make the data freely and easily available to anyone who wants to use it. This means access to data and methods, training materials, technical assistance and experts – so all nations, rich and poor, can evaluate their renewable potential.
As of early this year, 39 countries had joined the Atlas, by signing a non-binding commitment for sharing information and/or resources. The signing ceremonies were organized during the third Clean Energy Ministerial, the COP18, and the third IRENA Assembly.
Many partners are supporting the initiative on around the world, both from the public and private sector.
How does it work? The Global Atlas became available online in January 2013. The system is totally decentralised, and connects to databases on different servers worldwide. The list of servers is not limited, so many institutes and countries can contribute quality information. Data sources are connected based on standards developed by the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) and the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). The data remains property of the data holder, and no transfer of archive is necessary. The data can be maintained and updated easily by providers. This choice of data-sharing technology choice enables the initiative to be open and inclusive. If you wish to know more, all tutorials for the Atlas are provided online, in the form of short videos.
The information is displayed by a global online interface. The interface links to online tools for manipulating data, computing technical resource potentials, screening areas of interest and sharing best practices in how to use the data. The system architecture lets additional countries give access to their data at low cost. And it also lets countries already participating provide additional data easily. Thus the open architecture promotes both breath and completeness in the data. The system will help identify gaps in countries where technical assistance for local measurement campaigns and capacity building activities are needed. As the data are updated and maintained by external entities, the system will provide updated data throughout the globe without significant maintenance costs.
The solar and wind component of the atlas will be complemented by additional datasets. The initiative will progressively expand to include bioenergy, geothermal and hydropower information, and marine energies.
Global Atlas presentation at the Pacific Energy Summit
The Global Renewable Energy Atlas
Solar and Wind Component
Pacific Energy Summit
Auckland, New Zealand
March 25-26, 2013
Wind speed, population
density, protected areas
An Atlas Can Answer Many
What is the most cost-effective combination of technologies?
What share of my energy mix can be supplied by renewables?
Where are the resources located?
How much investment would be needed to develop them?
How many jobs might be created if they were developed?
Is there a large enough market to sustain a supply chain?
Physical Resource Mapping Is
Needed to Assess Technical
and Economic Potential
Bridge the gap between nations having access to the
necessary funding, technologies, and expertise to evaluate
their national potentials, and those deprived of those
• data and methods
• training materials and courses
• Technical assistance
• a network of experts
Albania, Australia, Belgium,
Denmark, Egypt, Ethiopia,
France, Gambia, Germany,
Grenada, Honduras, India, Iraq,
Israel, Kuwait, Lithuania, Mali,
Mexico, Mongolia, Nicaragua,
Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Peru,
Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal,
Seychelles, South Africa, Spain,
Swaziland, Switzerland, Tunisia,
UAE, Uganda, UK, Uruguay, USA,
Statement of Interest for the
Global Renewable Energy Atlas
Technical Partners and Data Providers
Partner Projects and Multilateral Initiatives