A team of researchers based at the University of Southampton has mapped out all of the world's solar and wind energy sites. The team claims that the mapping exercise is the first of its kind across the world and that it will offer a high-value resource to bodies interested in measuring the overall environmental impact of these clean and green energy sites.
Their work and the accompanying study were published this month in Scientific Data. The map demonstrates the density of wind and solar infrastructure across searchable regions, along with the estimated power output for each site.
The team estimated that over a quarter of all global electricity generation was produced from renewable technologies by December 2018 and that the majority of this was driven by solar panels and wind turbines.
A spokesperson from the team, Sebastian Dunnett, a PhD student who took on the lead research role, said that governments were already finding it hard to keep track of renewable developments within their borders, explaining that most existing studies combined socioeconomic data and land suitability research to estimate how renewable technologies had spread and were being used.
The new map, he said, would help to provide more robust and thorough data on a public resource. The researchers also hope that the map will show whether wind and solar power developments are having an impact on surrounding wildlife and ecological systems.
The map was created using data gathered from OpenStreetMap, the collaborative and open-access mapping project which operates worldwide. The team then grouped each data record and tagged it with wind and solar sites, which were taken from national data sources. The map shows that North America, Europe and East Asia are dominant in renewable energy technologies and flags up areas where the green revolution is happening.