Wednesday, October 15, 2008

3TIER mapping world's solar, wind and hydro resources


It seems like we can find almost everything we need through Google Maps — even the best place to put a new wind farm or a solar power plant. Renewable energy prospectors can now assess potential sites with the click of a mouse using 3TIER’s high-resolution maps of the earth’s solar radiation, wind speeds and hydro power capacities. The company showed off its new seamless, high-resolution solar map of the western hemisphere this week at the International Solar Power conference.

3TIER is working on mapping the entire world with its “REmapping the World” initiative which it hopes will help developing countries assess their renewable energy resources and “leap frog” past fossil fuels. Many of the places that need renewable energy the most don’t have the resources to synthesize millions of satellite photos. 3TIER offers a free look on their web site for consumers and sells comprehensive, custom full site analysis reports, complete with GIS data layers to energy developers.

3TIER says its new solar maps offers three times the resolution of existing industry standards. And while you might have thought sunlight just beams straight down, 3TIER’s solar map displays information on global horizontal irradiation, direct normal irradiation and diffuse irradiation so you can tell how much radiation might actually power your panels. The wind energy map also provides a huge amount of detail and clicking through the wind velocity at elevations of 20, 50 and 80 meters quickly illustrates that higher speed winds are higher up in the atmosphere.

Founded in 1999, 3TIER displays its data using Google Maps, which makes us wonder: What if Google were to acquire 3TIER? It could be a perfect fit. has made investments in solar and wind energy companies which could certainly make use of high-resolution energy maps. 3TIER’s maps could perfectly compliment Google’s recent grant to Southern Methodist University Geothermal Laboratory to update a very similar geothermal energy map. And Google Earth has been adding layers of data about renewable energy for quite some time now. But then again, we’re still waiting for Google to acquire the Earth2Tech portfolio of green maps.

Images courtesy of 3TIER.

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