Global Wind Atlas (GWA)

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The World Bank’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), released its Global Solar Atlas 2.0 and Global Wind Atlas 3.0 in October 2019 in collaboration with the Danish Technical University (DTU) and SOLARGIS. The atlases are free, web-based applications developed to assist policymakers, planners, and investors identify high-wind or strong-solar resource areas for wind and solar power generation virtually anywhere in the world, and perform preliminary calculations that otherwise would pose a costly obstacle in the initial stages of project planning. These updates are the first under the framework of the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) and, in particular, the CEM Working Group on Solar and Wind Technologies, led by Germany, Spain and Denmark.

Content of of the Atlas

The updated Global Wind Atlas 3.0 and Global Solar Atlas 2.0 contain:

  • Global onshore coverage
  • Offshore coverage up to 200 km from the shoreline (previously 30km) enabling users to carry out the kind of analysis on offshore wind potential outlined in this new report: Going Global: Expanding Offshore Wind in Emerging Markets
  • Wind and solar resource mapping at 250 m horizontal grid spacing; mesoscale modeling was conducted by Vortex at 3 km (previously 9 km)
  • Wind resource mapping at 10, 50, 100, 150 and 200 m above ground/sea level. It is now also possible to download GIS files for all layers, for any area of interest
  • Temporal data for both solar and wind, enabling users to see how the resources vary by month and hour, with additional statistical and graphical displays.  Users can combine information from both the GSA and GWA at similar temporal scales to identify areas where wind and solar complement each other seasonally or during a typical day
  • New tools for calculating energy yields:
    • Allowing users to specify a custom wind turbines to create downloadable GIS data for annual energy production, capacity factor, or full load hours
    • Allowing users to calculate long-term energy yield for a custom-defined PV system. Energy yield estimates are provided as 12x24 (month x hour) profiles allowing to understand seasonal and intra-day variability of PV production

The GWA and GSA help policymakers and investors perform preliminary calculations, facilitate online queries and provides downloadable datasets based on the latest input data and modeling methodologies

  • Users can assess the latest tools and methodologies, download GIS data for wind or irradiation resource at a point, over a custom area, or within a country or first administrative unit (state/province/etc.)
  • Users can assess the variability of wind or irradiation resource by year, month, and hour
  • Mean wind speed and mean wind power density maps for the world and a selection of countries and first administrative units can be downloaded as high-resolution maps in PNG and PDF format
  • The Global Wind Atlas and Global Solar Atlas are validated datasets

For more information on data, tools, or methodologies please see the release notes on both atlas webpages.

Next Steps

The next steps include expanding the floating and hydropower-connected solar module under the Global Solar Atlas, that will help users identify potential sites by providing data on the hydropower reservoirs starting with India. ESMAP has been working with the International Hydropower Association (IHA), with the objective to create an open database that can be improved over time. This work supports the When Sun Meets Water series, comprising two reports on floating solar and other resources to come. Additionally, the ESMAP team is turning towards geospatial planning and utilizing the data available from the GSA and GWA to identify zones for solar and wind development within countries to carry out Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) calculations. The intent is to deliver this in 2020.

The atlases demonstrate the immense global potential of both wind and solar resources and as such it is hoped that this information will be circulated as widely as possible so that it can increase global access to high quality, free information that can inform clean energy development planning. 

Further Information