National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) - Innovation for Our Energy Future
Dynamic Maps, GIS Data and Analysis Tools at NREL - Your connection to GIS news and activies at the Laboratory.

October 2012 - End of Fiscal Year Addition

The Geographic Information System (GIS) Team at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) encompasses a broad range of scientific research and reporting activity in support of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), NREL programs and initiatives, and the GIS community. The purpose of this end of FY newsletter is to highlight a few of the new tools and announce changes and addition of datasets that were finished by the end of our Fiscal year. You are receiving this message because you have subscribed to our mailing list.

Featured Tools

A screenshot of the Geothermal Analysis tool with a pie chart showing the surface ownership percentages and acerage of tribal lands in the United States.
A screenshot of the Geothermal Analysis tool with a chart showing a number of wells and the temperatures compared to the depth of the wells.

Screenshots from the Geothermal Prospector

A screenshot of the Wind Power Analysis tool with a pie chart showing the wind resource ownership percentages and acerage of tribal lands in the United States.
A screenshot of the Geothermal Analysis tool with a chart showing megawatts generated by the number of turbines with the wind speed range compared to total installations.

Screenshots from the Wind Prospector

Geothermal and Wind Prospectors Releasing from Beta

The Geothermal Prospector and the Wind Prospector are web-based GIS applications designed to support resource assessment and data exploration associated with geothermal exploration and wind development. These applications give both external and internal users the ability to examine a variety of information such as the available resource, the land ownership, the proximity of transmission lines, the available water resources, resource potential, and other data specific to each technology — including exploration and geothermal power plant data, and current or planned wind installations.

Both applications utilize the OpenCarto framework and the architecture behind OpenCarto is a web-based GIS framework that currently supports over 20 different applications in all areas of renewable energy. These applications share data, code, and distribute framework maintenance responsibilities. uses the same data and server resources and also represents development that is shared across many projects.

Additionally, both applications offer an advanced spatial analysis functionality that provides a complete summary of the available data for a specific region of interest. Users receive a summary of land ownership, land use restrictions, and leasing information in conjunction with technology specific summaries such as the total number of wells in an area or the details of the existing wind projects along with the resource information for each.

Future plans for these applications include the provision of external data services allowing all of the maps to be made available as WMS/WFS resources, enhanced querying through a combination of multi-layer spatial and attribute searches, and the ability to save views of data for sharing with other users and returning to for further analysis.

Both applications are being finalized for release from beta now and are currently available to the public. Feedback on the functionality and data that are available in these applications is greatly appreciated.

Contact GIS Scientist Dan Getman for information.

Marine & Hydrokinetic (MHK) Atlas

Image of a triangle divided into sections called Market, Economic, Technical, and Resource that include the key assumptions for each section on a bulleted list beside it.

In our April 2012 GIS Newsletter we included an article about the MHK Atlas. A more detailed announcement about the tool was released in September 2012, which described the application as a tool that maps potential resources for wave energy, ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) and sea water cooling (SWC).

Wave energy potential is mapped along U.S. coastlines, including Hawaii, Puerto Rico and portions of Alaska. App users can explore several variables used in the wave energy assessment such as: wave power density, wave height, wave energy period, and wave hindcast direction. Data for each variable can be viewed as annual or monthly averages.

OTEC and SWC resources are mapped globally. Available data layers can display numerous variables used in the assessment including: net power, delta-t, sea surface temperature, plant spacing estimates and the depth at which specified water temperatures can be found for sea water cooling. The assessment data can also be used in conjunction with political boundaries, such as Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ).

The MHK Atlas was developed to visually represent the results of the EPRI's Mapping and Assessment of the United States Ocean Wave Energy Resource and Lockheed Martin's Ocean Thermal Extractable Energy Visualization (OTEEV). Contributions to these efforts from NREL were led by George Scott of the NWTC. DAV team members include: Pamela Gray-Hann (data analysis), Donna Heimiller (data analysis and DAV project lead) and Nick Langle (lead application developer).

Future plans may add additional MHK resources to the application. The application is available at

Solar Prospector

Image of a triangle divided into sections called Market, Economic, Technical, and Resource that include the key assumptions for each section on a bulleted list beside it.

In September an updated release of the Solar Prospector was announced. The Solar Prospector is a mapping and analysis tool designed to provide access to geospatial data relevant to the solar industry in general and for the siting of utility-scale solar plants in particular. The application provides easy access to solar resource, land ownership, environmental, administrative and infrastructural data to help assess solar development potential within the United States. The Solar Prospector also provides the ability for users to download solar resource data in a variety of formats for further exploration and analysis. The tool has been online since 2009 and is updated periodically with new data and analysis capabilities. The key updates are detailed below.

  • Solar resource data updates
    • Hourly solar resource and weather data updated to include four additional years, 2006-2009
    • Typical Global Horizontal Year (TGY) and Typical Meteorological Year (TMY) formatted data added using information from all 12 years, 1998-2009*
    • Hourly solar resource and weather data for previous years (1998 – 2005) regenerated to incorporate Clean Power Research v2.0 model updates and apply better back-filling algorithm for missing data
    • Typical Direct Normal Irradiance Year (TDY) data regenerated using information from all 12 years, 1998-2009*
    • TDY data updated to include geographic coverage for Hawaii Average Annual DNI, Average Annual GHI, and Average Annual Tilt at Latitude solar resource map layers updated using data from all 12 years, 1998-2009
  • Solar PEIS (Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for the BLM) solar study area map layers updated
  • Added a new map layer of utility-scale PV facility locations
  • "Solar augment potential" (augmenting existing fossil plants with CSP) map layer updated to include 6 more states and 109 additional facilities

* Note that the TDY, TGY, and TMY data provided by the Solar prospector are different than either the TMY2 or TMY3 existing data products from NREL. TMY2 data and TMY3 data are derived from the National Solar Radiation Database (NSRDB), whereas the data provided here are derived from the SUNY Satellite Solar Radiation model.

Contact Solar Prospector project lead Ted Quinby with questions.

GIS Webpage Updates

The following data and maps have recently been posted:

  • Geothermal: The Geothermal maps page was updated with a new power generation map and two operating and developing power plants maps were added.
  • Solar: Two new maps using 10km data from 1998 to 2009 were added to the Solar maps page and three datasets have been added to the Solar data resource page.
  • Data Resources: The Hydrogen, Solar and Wind pages were updated with links to KMZ files, if available.

For the latest updates on information regarding dynamic maps and GIS data, visit the
Dynamic Maps, Geographic Information System (GIS) Data and Analysis Tools,
NREL Data and Visualization Tools, or NREL Developer Network website.

If you are having trouble with our email version, please access our Web version October 2012.

Questions? Contact

The GIS at NREL newsletter highlights all the GIS activities in support of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies research at the laboratory. Features include recent projects, new tools, and available datasets. You can subscribe to this newsletter using our simple online form, and you can also unsubscribe online.

NREL is a national laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, operated by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC NREL U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC