It's one thing to decide to go solar...it's quite another to figure out if it will be economical for you. We hear a lot about how cheap wind and solar can be, but if there's no sun or wind where you live, it's never gonna work out.
Which is why it is extremely vital that we have a detailed understanding of where in the world is sunny and windy. Well, to completely eliminate all confusion on that front, we have 3tier's Firstlook service.
The map basically plots a gigantic set of data on wind and solar, and then averages the points between that data set. As such, you can figure out exactly how much solar and wind you can get out of any spot in America (averaged yearly.)
The above map is for solar energy, and it makes it quite clear that the South West is really where solar makes the most sense (see SciAm's Grand Solar Plan for more on that.) Wind (below), on the other hand, when viewed broadly, shows a huge swath of red in the mid-west.
But the real power of this service is that it is ultra-high resolution. If you go and check out your town, you can see the difference between a nearby mountain, a river, and your house. 3Tier says that the technology will help reduce the cost of "siting" solar and wind energy. Though I imagine large projects will still want to do their own analysis, this is fantastic for smaller-scale projects on the local or even individual level.
And if you're interested, check it out for yourself.
written by Bart Nijssen - 3TIER CTO, January 25, 2008
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