Microsoft Corp., Planet Labs PBC and Nature conservation launch the Global Renewable Energy Watch (GRW), a living atlas intended to map and measure all large-scale solar and wind installations on Earth using artificial intelligence (AI) and satellite imagery, allowing users to evaluate progress in the clean energy transition and trends over time.
With the first mapping of solar and wind installations in Germany and India, as well as solar installations in Brazil and Egypt complete, the GRW is being built to serve as a publicly available renewable energy atlas with country-by-country insights into production progress and development trends. With access to satellite data dating back to 2018 and plans to update the atlas twice a year, the GRW aims to show countries’ renewable energy capacity, help understand that capacity and recognize patterns about the potential impact of renewable energy placement on the landscape over time rather than as a moment in time.
The first full global inventory is expected to be completed in early 2023, after which the results will undergo both scientific and technical validation. For this joint program, Microsoft will provide the AI and platform technology, Planet will contribute the underlying satellite imagery, and The Nature Conservancy will overlay the substantive expertise to analyze the output.
“The theme for Climate Week NYC this year is ‘making it happen,’ and to do that we need to move from promises to progress,” said Jennifer Morris, CEO of The Nature Conservancy. “Global Renewables Watch, the result of a collaboration between Microsoft, The Nature Conservancy and Planet, is 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 decision makers can scale much-needed renewables in a responsible, wildlife-friendly manner.”
Current methods of tracking solar and wind projects worldwide are a hugely complex undertaking, crossing countless jurisdictions, with much of the data held by private organizations. The GRW aims to provide this data by linking AI to high-resolution satellite imagery and presenting it in a dynamically updated time series.
“Each of the partners brings 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 Microsoft’s AI and cloud computing capabilities, Planet’s comprehensive high-resolution satellite imagery, and The Nature Conservancy’s in-depth content expertise, we hope to build a powerful platform for emerging – and democratizing access to – renewable energy data.”
The partners will continue to map other countries and aim to meet in the weeks leading up to and during the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP27, taking place in Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt, November 6-18, 2022.
“The world needs access to data to make responsible environmental decisions, and the Global Renewables Watch will serve as a critical tool for understanding humanity’s progress towards fulfilling the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) (SDG). ) 7 to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all,” said Juan Lavista Ferres, VP and chief data scientist at Microsoft.