The World Bank, in partnership with the International Solar Alliance (ISA), launched the Global Solar Atlas, a free, web-based tool to help investors and policymakers identify potential sites for solar power generation virtually anywhere in the world, at the click of a button.
The tool displays annual average solar power potential, and has the capacity to zoom into areas in great detail (with a spatial resolution of 1 km, or 0.6 of a mile). The tool also provides access to high resolution global and regional maps and geographic information system (GIS) data, enabling users to print poster maps and utilize the data in other applications.
This will help governments save millions of dollars on their own research and provide investors and solar developers with an easily accessible and uniform platform to compare resource potential between sites in one region or across multiple countries.
The Atlas was unveiled at an ISA event at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi. It serves as an example of the World Bank’s commitment to ISA and to scaling up renewable energy in client countries.
“This new tool will assist governments and investors to obtain an initial indication of solar resource potential before carrying out their own more detailed analysis,” said Piyush Goyal, Minister of State at the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy in the Government of India. “I am grateful to the World Bank for providing this tool, and have no doubt it will be accessed regularly by many users.”
The data can also be accessed through the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) Global Atlas for Renewable Energy. This will allow users to overlay additional data such as transmission lines and protected areas to identify possible zones or sites for solar development.
The Global Solar Atlas was funded by the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), a multi-donor trust fund administered by the World Bank, and was commissioned in collaboration with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to ensure relevance to both public and private sector stakeholders. It was developed by Solargis, a leading commercial provider of solar resource data.
“The World Bank is seeing a surge of interest from our clients in solar power as a result of the dramatic cost decreases over the past few years. We hope that 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 underlying solar resource database is based on up to 22 years of satellite data, and has been validated using high quality ground-based measurement data where this exists.
While the data powering the Global Solar Atlas is the most recent and most accurate currently available, it is not fully validated in many developing countries due to the lack of ground-based measurement data from high precision solar radiation sensors.
To reduce the risks associated with higher margins of uncertainty, the World Bank, with funding from ESMAP, intends to install solar measurement stations in at least 20 developing countries over the next four years. All data will be made publicly available, and is currently being published via the Energydata.info platform.