World Bank unveils Global Solar Atlas

The platform — which data provider Solaris designed to help policymakers, investors and prospective developers identify new locations in which solar projects can be built — allows users to zoom in on high-resolution regional and global maps, with a spatial resolution of 1 kilometer.

The platform, which was unveiled on the sidelines of the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, offers a range of site-specific information, including up-to-date figures on annual average solar potential, as well as geographic information system (GIS) data.

“The Global Solar Atlas will help inform the crucial planning and investment decisions that will need to be taken over the next decade to shift to more sustainable forms of energy,” said Riccardo Puliti, senior director and head of the World Bank’s Energy & Extractives Global Practice.

The World Bank will share the platform via the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) Global Atlas for Renewable Energy, so users can cross-reference solar irradiance data with information on site-specific transmission infrastructure.

The Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) — a multi-donor trust fund under the World Bank — provided funding for the Global Solar Atlas, in cooperation with the International Finance Corp.

Piyush Goyal, India’s minister of new and renewable energy, praised the atlas for giving policymakers and financiers the opportunity to assess solar resource potential before diving into more detailed analysis.

The database is built on roughly 22 years of satellite data, verified with ground-based measurement data where possible. Data in some developing countries cannot be validated due to a lack of ground-based measurement equipment. However, the World Bank plans to set up solar measurement stations in about 20 countries over the next four years to address this issue.