SWERA products include Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and time series data, along with links to energy optimization tools needed to apply these data.
The Solar and Wind Energy Resource Assessment (Swera) started in 2001 as a $9.1 million (Dh33.4m) pilot project partly financed by $6.8m from the Global Environment Facility. It was managed by the United Nations Environment Programme’s Division of Technology, Industry and Economics in collaboration with more than 25 partners around the world.
Following the project’s success in 13 pilot countries – Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Cuba, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Kenya, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sri Lanka – Swera was expanded into a full programme in 2006.
It provides high quality information on renewable energy resources to countries and regions around the world, along with tools to apply the data in ways that facilitate renewable energy policies and investments.
"Energy is the vital force powering business, manufacturing and the transportation of goods and services to serve the world’s economies," he said. "Energy supply and demand plays an increasingly vital role in national security and economic output. It is not surprising that the US spends more than $500 billion annually on energy."
US statistics on the distribution of energy consumption and electricity from 2007 show that petroleum accounted for 40 per cent, natural gas 23 per cent, coal 22 per cent, nuclear electric power eight per cent and renewable energy seven per cent.
Americans used renewable sources such as hydroelectric, geothermal, wind, etc , to meet about seven per cent of their energy needs in 2006, said Rashid. However, wind energy is increasingly being adopted. Forecasts for annual US wind capacity additions show more than 5,000MW are likely to be added this year, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
"We can improve efficiency through adopting innovative technologies and using less energy consumptive refrigerators and freezers. Over the past 30 years, the energy efficiency of refrigerators has increased by about 70 pe rcent."
Rashid said the US Government was keen to reduce energy consumption during the 1990s and succeeded in decreasing its consumption by 30 per cent.
SWERA wind products provide estimates of how much wind resource is available at potential development sites. SWERA wind resources are depicted as average wind speed (meters per second) or wind power density (watts per square meter) at a specified height above the ground (nominally 50 m).
These are derived from models and satellite and global weather observations and do not contain site-specific data. The SWERA high-resolution (such as 1-km and 5-km) gridded data products allow for identification of resource rich areas that could be missed in lower resolution data sets. The SWERA wind products can be used to determine what areas warrant further investigation for wind development. These products are not intended to be used for siting decisions, especially wind farms, but instead should be used to identify potential areas for wind farms at which more detailed time-series site-specific data should be collected.
The SWERA wind maps provide visual presentations of how much wind energy is available at potential development sites. These maps can be used to visually identify areas rich in wind resources within a country or region, and allow an easy look at the data without the need to navigate through large data sets or applying GIS software.
Based on the deployment of wind energy that occurred during the past three years, a 20 per cent annual wind capacity growth is expected until 2030, according to an exert in renewable energy resources.