NREL Opens New Doors to Renewable Energy Data
October 25, 2011
The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory is home to a cornucopia of data on renewable energy, energy efficiency and alternative transportation. This week, NREL launched a new website that will make the data more accessible than ever.
NREL’s new site, developer.nrel.gov, provides data feeds that computer programmers can access for use in their own mobile and Web applications. The first data set to be offered is a comprehensive, nationwide list of alternative vehicle fueling station locations, including those that supply electricity, biodiesel, ethanol or natural gas. Developers can retrieve the data through a Web services API (application programming interface).
“Every year, we get hundreds of requests for our data,” NREL project manager Johanna Levene said. “In the vast majority of cases, we’ve been happy to provide it, but the person on the other end has had to go to the trouble of finding the right person, asking for the data, downloading it and updating it to keep it current. NREL’s new subsite automates that entire process and serves as a seamless data conduit directly from NREL to another organization’s application.”
Developers who access the data will be able to tailor it to their own needs. For example, an organization could use NREL’s alternative fueling station data to create an application that reveals the locations of all electric vehicle charging stations inside a particular state or city.
“NREL wouldn’t necessarily build a mapping tool for charging stations in South Carolina, for instance, but for someone else, that kind of application might be of tremendous value,” Levene said. “Providing our station data through Web services allows developers to slice and dice the information based on their own interests and their own geographical regions.”
Developers also can create mashups that combine data from developer.nrel.gov with data from other sources to provide new, unique tools and capabilities. NREL’s charging station data could be combined with a data set of coffee shop locations to create a tool that shows electric vehicle drivers the nearest place to grab a latte while charging their car.
“This is a much more streamlined way of pushing out our information on energy efficiency and renewable energy to the rest of the world. We expect that people will develop all kinds of creative applications and uses for it that we haven’t even dreamed of,” Levene said.
In the near future, developer.nrel.gov will feature a data set of all federal and state laws and incentives related to alternative fuel vehicles and electric vehicles. Within the next few months, developers will be able to access data related to wind and solar energy.
The Web services are publicly available, and the data is immediately accessible once users provide basic contact information. NREL will use the Twitter handle @NRELdev to announce new data sets as they become available.
NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.