Because renewable resources vary considerably from one geographic location to another, optimal siting of renewable energy systems requires knowledge of the specific resource characteristics—availability, magnitude, and variability—at any given location. NREL provides high-quality renewable energy resource data for U.S. and international locations.
NREL's resource assessment and forecasting research is performed in a unique outdoor research facility designed to provide continuous research-quality solar radiation and other meteorological data for use in climate change studies, atmospheric research, renewable energy conversion system testing, and more.
NREL's online RReDC is the world's largest free collection of renewable energy resource data, offering comprehensive information on solar resources in the United States, as well as links to data on wind, geothermal, and biomass renewable energy resources. Up-to-date data, resource maps, publications, and other information about renewable resources are available through the RReDC.
The MIDC provides real-time irradiance and meteorological data from measurement stations located throughout the United States in California, North Carolina, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and multiple locations in Colorado. Baseline measurement systems are located at NREL's Solar Radiation Research Laboratory in Golden, Colorado.
The Geographical Information System (GIS) is a computer-based system used to manipulate, manage, and analyze data important to solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal technologies. NREL uses GIS to create dynamically generated maps of renewable energy resources that determine which energy technologies are viable solutions in the United States.