Finding Renewable Energy Opportunities: There’s an App for That

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) just released a new smartphone app called the Global Atlas Pocket that can turn your smartphone or tablet into your very own personal renewable energy prospector — answering questions like “Is this city ideal for wind power investment?” or “Is there a nearby location suitable to build a solar PV farm?”

Called the “only global tool of its kind,” Global Atlas Pocket brings together 1,000 maps from 50 data centers across 67 world governments to deliver a first-of-its-kind free application aimed at enabling renewable investors to identify potential investment opportunities in wind, solar, bioenergy, geothermal, ocean energy and hydropower.

The app is an extension of the already existing Global Atlas portal, which provides information to assist countries in the evaluation of their renewable energy alternatives. In addition to identifying infrastructure opportunities, the app also includes GPS capability, satellite map views provided by Bing, and collected information about the viability of certain regions to produce renewable energy.

Jeffrey Harris, chairman of the board of the Open Geospatial Consortium, said the app applies calculations to collected data sets and produces “defined outputs that help users understand precisely what their options are so they can quickly move to the marketplace.”

Global Atlas Pocket works by enabling users to pinpoint geographical hotspots ideal for certain types of renewable energy technologies. Upon launch, the app pulls up a satellite view world map. Navigating to specific points on the globe can be accomplished manually via pinch and zoom or by typing the name of a location in the search box. Users can also launch their mobile device’s GPS to zero in on their current position.

Once a geographical location has been selected, users can access a series of maps that produce visual overlays of existing renewable energy resources. Information returned includes such data as annual solar exposure and crop sustainability indexes based on average yearly rainfall. Personalized search and sharing capabilities are also included with the app, allowing a user to forward information via email and social media.

Adnan Z. Amin, director-general of IRENA, called Global Atlas Pocket an “incredibly powerful tool” that “brings more investment certainty to renewable energy prospectors and investors.” Amin added that investment uncertainty is one of the principal hurdles to more widespread renewable energy deployment.

Barbara J. Ryan, Secretariat Director of the Intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations, said the app’s ability to provide access to data about natural renewable resources enables “better informed decision-making in areas of vital importance to our global society.”

The Global Atlas Pocket app is available now as a free download for Android, iOS, Blackberry 10 and Windows Phone devices.

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Vince Font is a freelance journalist specializing in the fields of renewable energy, high tech, travel, and entertainment. Read his blog at or follow him on Twitter @vincefont.

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