IRENA unveils new solar, wind maps


The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is making privately-produced renewable energy resource data available at no cost.

The organization is offering the data for download as part of its Global Atlas for Renewable Energy, which it launched in 2013. The Global Atlas allows users to download renewable resource data from selected datasets for offline analysis. Until now, however, only data from selected publicly-funded sources was available. IRENA is now working with Finnish environmental and industrial measurement company Vaisala to make its average annual data on solar irradiation and wind speeds available for download through the Global Atlas.

The resource data can help developers, policy makers and researchers with initial project planning and prospecting and in setting policy.

"Our common goal is to accelerate the growth of renewables worldwide," said Nicolas Fichaux, IRENA’s senior program officer. "By pushing the boundaries of publicly available resource data, IRENA and Vaisala are helping the sector to move faster by lowering the complexity of entry into new renewable energy markets."

Pascal Storck, Vaisala’s global manager of energy services, added that facilitating access to reliable resource data was an essential first step in supporting global renewable energy expansion. "It’s our goal and responsibility to minimize investment risk for the industry throughout the lifecycle of projects – from the early-stage prospecting efforts this data enables to the more detailed financial forecasts and real-time operational support we provide to clients."

Storck said that working with IRENA on the Global Atlas initiative allowed the company to maximize the reach of its global wind and solar datasets "to the benefit of the international renewable energy development community and its ambitions in promising new markets."

Vaisala’s global wind dataset provides average annual wind speeds at a height of 80 meters and a resolution of 5 km, based on 10 years of hourly data from advanced simulations and validated against ground measurements. The global solar data set provides average annual global horizontal irradiation (GHI) at 3 km resolution. The data is likewise based on over 10 years of hourly data, derived from satellite imagery and validated against ground measurements.

Data can be downloaded from the Vaisala map in the Global Atlas in GeoTIFF format in portions of 4 MB.