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Free, web-based tool by World Bank to identify potential sites for solar power generation anywhere in the world


Last month, the World Bank launched a free, web-based tool to help identify potential sites for solar power generation almost anywhere in the world, at the click of a button. 

Called the Global Solar Atlas, the tool displays annual average solar power potential. It has the capacity to zoom into areas in great detail (with a spatial resolution of 1 km). Users can also access high resolution global and regional maps and geographic information system (GIS) data, print poster maps and utilise the data in other applications. It can help compare resource potential between sites in one region or across multiple countries.

The data can also be accessed through the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA is an intergovernmental organisation that supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future, and serves as a platform for international cooperation, a centre of excellence, and a repository of knowledge on renewable energy) Global Atlas for Renewable Energy. This will allow users to overlay additional data such as transmission lines and protected areas in order to identify possible zones or sites for solar development.

This easily accessible tool can save millions of dollars spent on research for investors and policymakers, thereby giving a fillip to solar power initiatives from both public and private sectors.

According to the press release, the underlying solar resource database is based on up to 22 years of satellite data. The data has been validated using high quality ground-based measurement data where this exists. While the data used is the best available, it is not fully validated in many developing countries due to lack of ground-based measurement data from high precision solar radiation sensors. To improve the data validation, the World Bank plans to install solar measurement stations in at least 20 developing countries over the next four years, with funding from ESMAP.

All the data will be made publicly available. It is currently being published via the Energydata.info platform.

It was in partnership with the International Solar Alliance (ISA; ISA was conceived as a coalition of solar resource rich countries to address their special energy needs).

The Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), funded the development of the Atlas. ESMAP is a multi-donor trust fund administered by the World Bank. The project was commissioned in collaboration with the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

Read the press release here.

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