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Assessments and Tools

NREL has developed several tools, models, and resources that enable energy project leaders around the world to evaluate opportunities for deploying renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies on a global, regional, local, or project basis. NREL has also developed a broader suite of energy analysis tools beyond those highlighted here, which are used most extensively in our international programs. Many of these tools can be accessed via the Models and Tools page.

Resource Assessments and Maps

NREL conducts resource assessments to inform renewable energy policy and project development. To date, we have conducted biomass, solar, and wind resource assessments for more than 30 countries. We have also developed high-resolution resource maps and data products for several countries—including Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, and Pakistan—using our Geospatial Toolkit (see below).

Biomass Resource Assessments

Biomass resource assessments quantify the existing or potential biomass material in a given area. NREL evaluates biomass resources statistically and spatially using GIS and other techniques. This analysis examines the amount of resources available or potentially available in a region, as well as their geographic distribution.

Solar and Wind Energy Maps

In cooperation with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), NREL has produced high-resolution maps and data sets of solar and wind energy resources for more than a dozen developing countries through the Solar and Wind Energy Resource Assessment (SWERA) initiative. The resource data are integrated into a geographic information systems (GIS) framework that allows the resource data to be combined with key geographic and demographic data. We also contribute to the Global Atlas for Solar and Wind Energy, a collaborative, open-architecture project led by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) for Multilateral Solar and Wind Working Group of the Clean Energy Ministerial.

Global Energy Assessments

NREL collaborates with the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) on the Global Energy Assessment and with the International Energy Agency on renewable energy scenarios for the World Energy Outlook.

Tools and Knowledge Sharing Platforms

Geospatial Toolkit

NREL developed the Geospatial Toolkit—a map-based software application that integrates resource data and geographic information systems (GIS)—to enable countries to identify prime sites for renewable energy development. NREL has developed toolkits for Brazil, China, Ghana, India, and others, and we have developed toolkits and resource maps for Afghanistan, Bhutan, Northwest India, and Pakistan.

Global Solar Opportunity Tool

Developed by NREL for the Clean Energy Solutions Center and countries around the world, the Global Solar Opportunity Tool enables analysis and visualization of the technical and economic potential for solar electric technologies ranging from residential rooftop systems to utility-scale installations.

OpenEI: Open Energy Information

NREL created Open EI to collect and share energy data to inform policy development. In partnership with several international institutions, NREL manages Open EI information gateways for low emission development strategies, West African clean energy development, Latin American clean energy development, energy access and energy poverty, and solar and wind energy resource assessments.