Interactive atlas will help to assess the potential of renewable energy

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) presented the world's first world interactive atlas of alternative energy. Some 40 countries are participating in the project. For the time being, Russia is not able to demonstrate its energy potential on the interactive map.

The Energy Atlas ( was presented at the annual General Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency in Abu Dhabi. The Atlas offers open access to information on potential renewable energy sources to any Internet user.

The IRENA experts say that the Global Atlas for renewables is a major initiative to help countries to assess the potential of their renewable energy sources, as well as to assist companies in collecting the necessary data and maps from leading technical institutions and individuals around the world.

According to the project initiators, the project purpose is to help the very wide range of website visitors to identify areas of interest for future plans and investments. Already now, the site visitors have the opportunity to visualize the data on wind and solar energy, and can find all kinds of additional information. Besides a long list of technical parameters for renewable energy, the atlas users can explore transport networks and other infrastructures and find out if there are nature protected areas around.

Nicholas Fichaux, IRENA programme officer for resources assessment, said: "Atlas operates complex programs to measure solar activity and has a detailed map of wind."

Currently, about 40 countries have declared their support for the project, including Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates. Participating countries can exchange data, databases, personnel information and experience.

The information contained in the atlas comes from all over the world. At the moment, solar maps are available for Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. Soon, the atlas will also generate a new set of data on wind energy, within a project funded by the Danish Government. It is planned that the project will be gradually expanded to become a full-scale online resource for renewable energy, including hydropower, bioenergy and geothermal energy.

Jay Srinivasan, Professor at the Centre for atmospheric and oceanic sciences with the Institute of Sciences in India (Bangalore), believes that "the database of renewable energy will be useful for planning future projects. In many developing countries - where resources are in abundance - no data on solar and wind energy are available. Meanwhile, private companies refuse to work in regions, where data is not available."

According to representatives of the International Renewable Energy Agency, the online atlas will soon be in demand both by public and private institutions, politicians and businessmen.

Russia is a white spot in the interactive atlas. However, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the RES technical potential in Russia is five times the annual consumption of primary energy resources in the country. The RES economic potential can meet one third of annual energy needs of the Russian economy. Unfortunately, renewable energy realities in Russia are not very impressive as compared to most countries. In Russia, only 1% of the energy is produced by renewable sources. It is planned to increase this share up to only 4.5% by 2020. Hopefully, in the near future, Russian renewables appear in the Energy Atlas in full diversity and volume.