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Published on May 19th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


Global Atlas for Wind & Solar Energy

May 19th, 2012 by  


The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) have launched a new online solar and wind atlas project — the Global Atlas for Solar and Wind Energy project.

Screenshot of Global Atlas for Wind and Solar Energy video above.

“The Global Atlas for Solar and Wind Energy project aims to create a collaborative internet-based Geographic Information System (GIS) of these renewable resources that can direct and enhance cooperation on global scenarios and strategies and support decision-making, especially in areas where this information in insufficiently known,” the IRENA page for the atlas states.

“IRENA is playing a lead role in the creation of the Atlas, by working with other international institutions, initially UNEP to provide financial and in-kind resources to the process, but to also ensure that the end-user needs are fulfilled, especially those of Member States, and the programme achieves its maximum impact on deployment of renewable energy technologies.”

Here’s more on the need for and potential of the atlas from IRENA:

Existing maps and data collections of solar and wind energy resources are often narrowly focused, inconsistent, incompatible and limited. Some provide only information about physical information such as insolation or wind speed. Others focus on economic and policy frameworks, such as support mechanisms. Different systems, websites and maps use various data sources, services, resolutions and geographic coverage. No existing system gives access to accurate, reliable and consistent information on renewable energy resources over the entire globe.

Data consistency is crucial to compare and develop strategies, take joint decisions, and speak a common language. The vision underlying the Global Atlas for Solar and Wind Energy is to develop a system capable of consistently addressing each geographic scale, for each renewable energy technology that will act as a host to the ongoing solar and wind energy networks and activities at a global level. The Global Solar and Wind Energy programme intends to build on existing initiatives, adapt their outcome to suit global aims, and expand their international representativeness. The potential spectrum of end-users for the Global Atlas for Solar and Wind Energy ranges from policy-makers and public authorities, investors, and developers, academics and the interested public. Each target audience has its own requirements in terms of data accuracy and services.

When completed the Global Atlas will offer different services depending on various user-group requirement. These could include, among others:

  • Technical analysis of wind and solar potential at any geographic scale (e.g. global, continent, region, country);
  • Display of renewable energy options using common physical units, displaying the potential synergies between different technology options, with a facility that allows users to “zoom” into the maps;
  • Real-time calculation of specific indicators, e.g. CO2 reductions, total investment, market volumes, and employment volumes;
  • The potentially ability to download maps in an electronic format compatible with standard GIS systems;
  • Documented levels or ranges of uncertainty, and information on data quality.

Currently, it seems that there are 85 member countries and 62 signatories/applicants for membership (image on left via IRENA).

It seems that the atlas will be located here when it’s complete, but there’s no indication of when that might be.

“Once the platform gets going, it could finally put IRENA in the foreground as a source of information for renewables,” Craig Morris of Renewables International notes. “Launched in 2009, the organization has mainly drawn attention to itself for all of the trouble it has had getting started. Last April, IRENA held its first general assembly, which was largely concerned with specifying who was to be the first elected director-general after the first one stepped down in protest.”


For even more information about the atlas, check out the Implementation Strategy, the abstract, or a recent news release about the clean energy atlas


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About the Author

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species). He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor. He's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.

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