The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) have launched what they say are the most detailed data and statistics available on global wind energy potential.
The Global Wind Atlas provides wind resource data at a one-kilometer resolution. Prior to this release, global wind data was publicly available only at a 10-kilometer resolution or poorer – which resulted in underestimations, increased risk and increased costs for wind energy planners, says IRENA.
"Wind energy potential across the globe is vast, but the upfront costs of measuring potential and determining the best locations for projects is an obstacle in many countries," says Adnan Z. Amin, director-general at IRENA. "The new Global Wind Atlas provides this needed data directly and for free, making it a groundbreaking tool to help jump-start wind energy development worldwide."
The dataset uses micro-scale modeling to capture wind-speed variability. When locating wind farms, developers naturally pick areas with the highest wind speeds. In datasets that provide average wind speeds over large areas, the enhancement of wind speeds due to small-scale features such as hills and ridges is not captured; then, the resource appears weaker than it actually is.
According to IRENA, the atlas can prevent this underestimation, provide visual maps showing wind speeds at three different heights, and provide tools to generate and export data and statistics such as wind roses and wind-speed distributions over a chosen area.
The tool is the newest addition to the datasets available through IRENA's Global Atlas, a renewable energy mapping tool.
The Global Wind Atlas builds on decades of experience in wind mapping at DTU. It was funded by Denmark as part of its commitment to the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) process and represents the achievement of the goal set forth by the CEM's Multilateral Solar and Wind Working Group to help increase the global share of renewable energy.
The Global Wind Atlas maps can be accessed here.