Microsoft Corp. Planet Labs PBC and The Nature Conservancy launch Global Renewables Watch (GRW), a living atlas that aims to map and measure all solar and wind power installations on Earth using artificial intelligence (AI) and satellite imagery, allowing to assess the progress of the clean energy transition and track trends by the time.
With preliminary mapping completed for solar and wind facilities in Germany and India, as well as solar installations in Brazil and Egypt, GRW is being built to serve as a publicly available atlas of renewable energy with country-by-country insights regarding production progress and development trends. With access to satellite data dating back to 2018, and plans to update the atlas twice annually, GRW aims to show countries’ renewable energy capacity, help understand that capacity, and identify patterns regarding the potential impact of renewable energy on the site. Landscape over time, not as a moment in time.
The first complete global inventory is expected to be completed by early 2023, at which point the results will be subject to scientific and technical verification. For this joint program, Microsoft provides the AI technology and platform, Planet contributes basic satellite imagery, and the Nature Conservancy overlays subject matter expertise to analyze output.
“This year’s New York Climate Week theme is ‘getting it done,'” says Jennifer Morris, CEO of The Nature Conservancy. “To do that, we need to move from pledges to progress.” Global Renewables Watch, a result of a collaboration between Microsoft and The Nature Conservancy and Planet, are exactly the kind of action we need to see. This will be a publicly available resource to help researchers and policy makers understand current capabilities and gaps so that decision makers can scale much-needed renewable energy resources in a responsible and nature-friendly manner.”
Current methods of tracking solar and wind projects globally is a very complex task, involving countless jurisdictions and with a lot of data held by private organizations. GRW aims to provide this data by combining artificial intelligence with high-resolution satellite imagery and presenting it in a dynamically updated time series.
“Each partners bring unique knowledge and added value to this initiative,” said Will Marshall, Planet Co-Founder and CEO. “You can’t manage what you can’t measure, so by combining the capabilities of Microsoft AI and cloud computing, comprehensive, high-resolution satellite imagery from Planet, and The Nature Conservancy’s deep subject matter expertise, we hope to build a strong platform for visibility — and democratization On Access – Renewable Energy Data”.
Partners will continue to map additional countries and aim to build awareness of the tool among those charged with managing the world’s clean energy transition in the weeks leading up to and during the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP27, to be held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, 6-18 November 2022.
“The world needs access to data in order to make responsible environmental decisions, and the Global Renewables Watch will serve as an important tool for understanding humanity’s progress towards achieving the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 to ensure access to modern, reliable, sustainable and affordable energy for all ‘,” states Juan La Vista Ferris, Microsoft Vice President and Chief Data Scientist.