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Prospecting for Wind and Solar: Renewable Energy Mining
Sarah Kuck, 18 Feb 10

The wind energy industry is growing so fast that our ways to describe how we look for more of it can barely catch up. Now, everyone from diversifying farmers to Texas oilmen who once prospected for crude are out hunting for harnessable wind, and we can catch a glimpse of the future of renewable energy in a new prospecting tool designed to help them find it.

The innovators at 3Tier have developed an new array of Wind and Solar Prospecting Tools to help find sites with potential. For the past decade, 3Tier has been collecting a wide variety of global data sets on wind, solar and hydro energy. Over the past few years, they've been layering this data over Google Maps and slicing these mash ups into web-based programs. We saw one of the iterations of this with FirstLook, about a year ago. Now, the Wind and Solar Prospecting Tools are taking it to the next level.


The polished program allows users to glide around the globe, using colors and charts, data and statistics to investigate valleys, plains, forests and coast lines. The program can even help you compare seasonal variability from site to site for wind and solar energy (separate and combined). Being able to look at both solar and wind variability in one window is a great way for renewable energy developers to make quick decisions on long-term projects. For example, instead of investing in all wind energy, a developer who knew that solar energy could deliver more power to the market in the summer could encourage investors to support a diversified project that included both wind and solar sources.


The interface program is subscription-based, but small project developers can buy a single-use pass for a lesser fee. You can find monthly and annual means, as well as hourly, daily and weekly averages for sites. Currently, the program has a 5 km resolution global wind dataset and a 3km resolution solar irradiance dataset. The solar program will be complete by the end of the year.

Since wind energy is sold on the market, this tool might also be a new resource for bankers as well.

The world of wind energy is a vast frontier that is just beginning to be explored. Sitting down with some of the 3Tier team members the other day, I realized what an amazing, exciting and futuristic job they have. These explorers are helping to predict more and more precisely where the wind will blow and the sun will shine to increase the probability of success for renewable energy projects. Right now that usually means helping prospectors discover sites for big projects, but what will it mean in the future? Who will their next clients be?

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the city of freiburg (DE) has a database for feasibility of roof-top solar installations. i think many municipalities could benefit from such a tool.

Posted by: mike on 21 Feb 10

I would say that its a good move, as you all are aware with the quantity of the fossil fuels are decreasing day by day. With the help of the use of Large Machining these kinds of natural resources, the future would be brighter and sunny. I agree with the report that with the vast use of natural resources and a way that can utilize the whole would work better.

Posted by: Sam on 4 Nov 10

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