Finding the best areas to generate solar power in Pacific Island countries is now possible with a new free tool, Global Solar Atlas, facilitated by the World Bank, and launched today, 31 July, at the Pacific Power Association (PPA) Conference in Apia, Samoa.
At the click of a button, the application will help investors and policymakers identify potential sites for this renewable energy.
The Global Solar Atlas displays the annual average or solar power potential and has the capacity to zoom into areas in great detail (spatial resolution of 1km, or 0.6 of a mile).
Users can access global and regional maps in high resolution as well as geographic information system (GIS) data, and the tool also allows printing of poster maps and use of the data in other applications.
A number of Pacific island states have already committed to significant increases in renewable energy use.
Riccardo Puliti, Senior Director and Head of the World Bank’s Energy & Extractives Global Practice said more clients are interested in solar power “largely due to a dramatic drop in solar prices over the past few years”.
“We hope that the Global Solar Atlas will help inform the crucial planning and investment decisions needed over the next decade to shift to more sustainable forms of energy.”
The maps are based on satellite atmospheric and meteorological data and enables investors and solar energy developers to compare resource potential between sites in one region or across multiple countries.
“This new tool provides an initial indication of solar resource potential before governments and investors carry out their own more detailed analysis and will likely make it easier for Pacific island countries to adopt solar power where appropriate,” said Mr Andrew Daka, Executive Director, Pacific Power Association.
Although the tool uses the most recent and most accurate data 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.
The Global Solar Atlas was developed by Solargis, funded by the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), administered by the World Bank, and commissioned in partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC). ESMAP is undertaking similar work on wind maps which are expected to be completed by the end of 2017.
To reduce the uncertainty of the existing maps, a two-year solar and wind measurement campaign led by the PPA and supported by ESMAP, is expected to provide higher quality data and therefore increase the confidence of potential commercial developers. All data will be made publicly available through the Energydata.info platform.