EVENT: Renewable Energy Resource Mapping | May 9, 2012

This event was part of the ESMAP Knowledge Exchange Forum 2012



This half-day event was organized by ESMAP to facilitate sharing of experience between countries that have successfully completed projects to map their renewable energy resources, those that are just starting, and resource mapping experts and service providers. The session focused on small hydro, solar and wind mapping, with a look at a range of technologies and mapping options, including satellite-based analysis, sourcing of ground-based measurements, GIS mapping, and strategic environmental assessments.


The following key conclusions emerged:


  • The availability of country-level resource data and an associated spatial planning strategy helps developers to reduce the risk profile of individual projects by increasing certainty; but having good meso-level data (e.g. to determine the best location for wind farms) does not remove the need for micro-level site assessments (e.g. to determine how an individual wind farm should be configured).
  • Resource maps are often generated by models that use satellite data, but ground-based measurements are crucial for verification purposes. Ground-based datasets going back several years can also be used to decrease the uncertainty range for individual site assessments, by allowing developers to determine how the data they have corresponds to weather variations between different years.
  • Resource mapping itself is only a means to an end; to be really useful, country-level resource data needs to be cross-referenced with key enablers (such as transmission infrastructure) and possible constraints (such as national parks or military exclusion zones). This analysis is what turns a resource map into a framework for the sustainable exploitation of renewable energy resources, and is a key factor in helping to provide certainty to prospective developers.
  • The Global Solar and Wind Atlas being developed by IRENA and the CEM Working Group on Solar and Wind will use existing systems and databases, linked through an 'open architecture', to provide a global reference point for resource data. However, measurement campaigns (such as what ESMAP is proposing) and local analysis can help to further improve the global atlas on an ongoing basis.
  • Client countries that have carried out resource mapping studies, such as Lebanon, have since used the results of this work to build internal understanding of the potential for renewable energy, and a strategic framework for its development. Others, such as Nepal, have a good understanding of some renewable energy resources (such as hydro) but very limited understanding of the potential of others (such as wind), and this represents a significant barrier to development of a diversified and secure electricity supply system.


Resource mapping providers demonstrated a range of tools for the modeling and dissemination of resource data, and stressed the importance of procuring high quality equipment when undertaking ground-based measurements (e.g. for solar and wind). The lack of existing ground-based measurement stations, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa (for solar), was also highlighted as a serious constraint in verifying global datasets.




Blog post:  The Journey to Renewable Energy Starts with a Map


Agenda:  Renewable Energy Resource Mapping











Oliver Knight at esmap@worldbank.org



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