Global Atlas for Solar and Wind Energy

The Global Renewable Energy Atlas project aims to create a collaborative Internet-based Geographic Information System (GIS) for 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 International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is leading the creation of the Global Atlas, working closely with other international institutions, starting with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), to provide financial and in-kind resources to the process. The project (known initially as the Global Atlas of Solar and Wind) also aims to fulfill end-user needs, especially those of IRENA Member States, and to achieve maximum impact on the deployment of renewable energy technologies.

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 conditions, 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 Renewable Energy Atlas is to develop a system capable of consistently addressing every geographic scale for each renewable energy technology, while also acting as a host for ongoing networking and activities about renewable energy at a global level. The project, focusing initially on solar and wind energy, has built on existing initiatives, expanding their representation and adapting their outcomes to suit global aims. The potential spectrum of end-users for the Global Atlas ranges from policy-makers and public authorities to investors, developers, academics and the interested public. Each target audience has its own requirements in terms of data accuracy and services.

When completed, the Global Renewable Energy Atlas will offer different services, depending on user-group requirements. These services would include, for example:

  • Technical analysis of wind and solar potential at any geographic scale (e.g., global, continent, region, country), expanding to include other forms of renewable energy;
  • 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 ability to download maps in an electronic format compatible with standard GIS systems;
  • Documented levels or ranges of uncertainty, and information on data quality.

Click here to download the Implementation Strategy.

Click here to download the abstract.