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Geographic Information System Data Background

NREL's GIS Team develops technology-specific GIS data maps for a variety of areas, including biomass, geothermal, solar, wind, and renewable hydrogen. The team has made some of our biomass, solar and wind datasets available for download through this Web site. Wind datasets are available at 25km, 50m and 90m. Solar datasets are available for the United States at 10m and 40m. Note: These datasets are designed to be used in GIS software applications.

National Biomass Resource Assessment

This data provides an estimate of the biomass resources available by county for the following feedstock categories: crop residues, methane emissions from manure management, methane emissions from landfills and wastewater treatment facilities, forest residues, primary and secondary mill residues, urban wood waste, and dedicated energy crops.

Lower 48 Solar Photovoltaics (PV) Collectors

40km Reslution

These datasets provide solar radiation values for common flat-plate and concentrating collectors for 239 stations in the United States. The solar radiation values are expressed as monthly and yearly averages for the period of 1961-1990. Further information can be found in the publication Solar Radiation Data Manual for Flat-Plate and Concentrating Collectors.

National Concentrating Solar Power (CSP)

10km Resolution

This data provides monthly average and annual average daily total solar resource averaged over surface cells of 0.1 degrees in both latitude and longitude, or about 10 km in size. The insolation values represent the resource available to concentrating systems that track the sun throughout the day. The data are created using the SUNY Satellite Solar Radiation model (Perez, et.al., 2002). The data are averaged from hourly model output over 8 years (1998-2005). This model uses hourly radiance images from geostationary weather satellites, daily snow cover data, and monthly averages of atmospheric water vapor, trace gases, and the amount of aerosols in the atmosphere to calculate the hourly total insolation (sun and sky) falling on a horizontal surface. The direct beam radiation is then calculated using the atmospheric water vapor, trace gases, and aerosols, which are derived from a variety of sources. Where possible, existing ground measurement stations are used to validate the data.

Southwestern Region Filtered Maps (10km)

Data for direct normal solar radiation filtered by solar resource and land availability. Data for less than 1% up to 5% slope available.

40km Resolution

This data provides monthly average daily total solar resource information on grid cells of approximately 40 km by 40 km. The insolation values represent the resource available to concentrating systems that track the sun throughout the day.

National Solar Photovoltaics (PV)

10km Resolution

This data provides monthly average and annual average daily total solar resource averaged over surface cells of 0.1 degrees in both latitude and longitude, or about 10 km in size. The insolation values represent the resource available to a flat plate collector, such as a photovoltaic panel, oriented due south at an angle from horizontal equal to the latitude of the collector location. The data are created using the SUNY Satellite Solar Radiation model (Perez, et.al., 2002). The data are averaged from hourly model output over 8 years (1998-2005). This model uses hourly radiance images from geostationary weather satellites, daily snow cover data, and monthly averages of atmospheric water vapor, trace gases, and the amount of aerosols in the atmosphere to calculate the hourly total insolation (sun and sky) falling on a horizontal surface. The direct beam radiation is then calculated using the atmospheric water vapor, trace gases, and aerosols, which are derived from a variety of sources. The procedures for converting these variables to radiation on a collector at latitude tilt are described in Marion and Wilcox (1994). Where possible, existing ground measurement stations are used to validate the data.

40km Resolution

This data provides monthly average daily total solar resource information on grid cells of approximately 40 km by 40 km. The insolation values represent the resource available to a flat plate collector, such as a photovoltaic panel, oriented due south at an angle from horizontal equal to the latitude of the collector location. Period of record: 1961 to 1990.

National Wind

50m Resolution

These datasets are geographic shapefiles generated from the original raster data. The original raster data varied in resolution from 200 m to 1000 m cell sizes. The data provides an estimate of annual average wind resource for specific states or regions.

The NREL-produced map data only applies to areas of low surface roughness (i.e. grassy plains), and excludes areas with slopes greater than 20%. For areas of high surface roughness (i.e. forests), the values shown may need to be reduced by one or more power classes.

The AWS TrueWind-produced resource estimates factor in surface roughness in their calculations, and do not exclude areas with slopes greater than 20%. These data were produced in cooperation with U.S. Department of Energy's Wind Powering America program, and have been validated by NREL and other wind energy meteorological consultants.

Areas designated class 3 or greater are suitable for most utility-scale wind turbine applications, whereas class 2 areas are marginal for utility-scale applications but may be suitable for rural applications. Class 1 areas are generally not suitable, although a few locations (e.g., exposed hilltops not shown on the maps) with adequate wind resource for wind turbine applications may exist in some class 1 areas. The degree of certainty with which the wind power class can be specified depends on three factors: the abundance and quality of wind data; the complexity of the terrain; and the geographical variability of the resource. A certainty rating was assigned to each grid cell based on these three factors, and is included in the Wind Energy Resource Atlas of the United States.

Table 1-1 Classes of wind power density at 10 m and 50 m(a)
Wind Power
Class
10 m (33 ft) 50 m (164 ft)
Wind Power Density
(W/m 2)
Speed (b) m/s (mph) Wind Power Density
(W/m 2)
Speed (b) m/s (mph)
1 0 0 0  
100 4.4 (9.8) 200 5.6 (12.5)
2
150 5.1 (11.5) 300 6.4 (14.3)
3
200 5.6 (12.5) 400 7.0 (15.7)
4
250 6.0 (13.4) 500 7.5 (16.8)
5
300 6.4 (14.3) 600 8.0 (17.9)
6
400 7.0 (15.7) 800 8.8 (19.7)
7
1000 9.4 (21.1) 2000 11.9 (26.6)
  1. Vertical extrapolation of wind speed based on the 1/7 power law.
  2. Mean wind speed is based on Rayleigh speed distribution of equivalent mean wind power density. Wind speed is for standard sea-level conditions. To maintain the same power density, speed increases 3%/1000 m (5%/5000 ft) elevation.

*NOTE: Each wind power class should span two power densities. For example, Wind Power Class = 3 represents the Wind Power Density range between 150 W/m2 and 200 W/m2. The offset cells in the first column attempt to illustrate this concept.

25km Resolution

Detailed information can be found in the publication Wind Energy Resource Atlas of the United States.

For additional information, including state wind resource maps developed by other organizations, please visit the Wind Powering America Web site.