An international effort to pinpoint the most promising wind and solar power sites in developing countries received a boost with the announcement of a new collaboration between the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and one of the world’s leading green energy research centers.Washington D.C. and Nairobi, Kenya – September, 27 2002 [SolarAccess.com] The agreement, between UNEP and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) headquartered in Golden, Colorado, will expand the pilot Solar and Wind Energy Resource Assessment (SWERA). Under the existing project, surveys and high-quality solar and wind maps are being prepared for 13 developing countries. The new agreement will increase the number to 14 by including the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. An existing plan to map Bangladesh will also be expanded under the new deal. SWERA, which has secured US$6.7 million investment from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), is seen as an important new initiative to deliver cleaner forms of energy to developing nations. The importance of providing high quality solar and wind maps, produced by SWERA using remote sensing satellite and on-the-ground data, is highlighted by the Philippines. The Government there changed its national energy strategy to include a greater reliance on wind power, after receiving an assessment of the kind SWERA would produce, showing a sizeable potential for wind power. Experts also claim that, by using the information gained through SWERA, wind developers may be able to find the best wind sites more quickly and shave 12 months or more from the time it takes to gather sufficient data to advance a wind project. Currently over two billion people in developing countries have little or no access to reliable source of energy and nine out of ten Africans have no access to electricity at all. Last year the G8 Task Force outlined how, given financing, political will and creative projects, could be delivered to one billion extra people by 2010. These new initiatives, such as a strengthened SWERA, are in line with the G8 Task Force’s proposals.