Above is an image snapped from my Mac demonstrating the newly designed interactive map of renewable potential in the US, the brainchild of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, open to both the public and policy-makers etc.
You can do plenty of fun things with it, whether you’re just interested in the whole clean energy science, or whether you need it to design a model or project for real-world implementation. This ranges from overlays of various energy forms, such as solar, wind, geothermal, even biomass, and all have the option to show legends and detailed information about each, outlining data sources and the potential amount of energy available.
This is all nicely overlaid on a map of the US, with separate labels for states, districts or land-ownerships such as tribal, which gives a nice spread of the American energy system and who may claim ownership of it.
I’ve personally had a little play around on it, mixing up my own selection of energy sources and seeing the results and its surprisingly enjoyable, but theres plenty more left to explore, and it will no doubt be a great resource for those who want to pursue a career or education in this field of science.
What would have been a nice addition in my opinion would be some overlays for fossil fuels, maybe along the lines of production, consumption or reserves, such as oil and coal. or maybe labels for the locations of plants and reactors. This would provide a nice comparison, allowing the user to get a feel for how much more domestic renewable there is over fossil fuels, putting the subject into a clear perspective for those still unsure of their stance on low-carbon tech.
It’s great to see that applications like these are being developed and let out into the public domain. If you haven’t already seen it, take a look at Duncan Clark’s and Robin Houston’s equally slick ‘kiln’ project at http://kiln.it/, a map application which morphs depending on which energy and carbon-related layer you select, which I feel could work really well with developments such as the NREL map.
To have a play with the map yourself for free, visit http://maps.nrel.gov/re_atlas.