3Tier Shares Global Wind, Solar Data in Google Maps Gallery

3/5/14Follow @bromano

Among the many maps in Google’s new Maps Gallery depicting everything from Spanish postal code boundaries to Martian topography, is one showing how much sunshine graces every corner of the globe.

The data underlying the Global Solar Map comes from Seattle-based 3Tier, the renewable energy information company acquired last year by Vaisala for about $14.7 million.

The company is providing a map showing average annual global horizontal irradiance at a spatial resolution of three kilometers, based on more than 10 years of data derived from observations and modeling. Another map shows average annual wind speeds at a height of 80 meters above ground (where utility scale wind turbines operate), at five kilometer spatial resolution.

3Tier provides much more detailed solar and wind forecasts to its paying customers, who use it to plan and evaluate renewable energy projects.

The 3Tier maps in the new Google gallery carry a disclaimer: “The wind speed values provided by this map are meant to inform high-level research for energy policy… excluding financial commitments.” So 3Tier isn’t giving away the store through its partnership with Google (which also involves no financial agreement with the Internet giant), but it does help tell the world about its services.

“We are only further increasing access to the data,” says 3Tier marketing manager Francesca Davidson in an email. “Improving access to global renewable resource information helps spread the word about global wind and solar power potential and helps move forward large aggregate research projects on zoning, infrastructure, policy, and integration. Helping promote progress in these areas will have a cumulative positive impact on growth for the renewable energy sector, which would in turn benefit 3Tier.”

That’s in keeping with the broader goal of Maps Gallery, which includes scores of maps in categories including boundaries, crisis, culture and society, environment, historical, imagery, infrastructure, places, recreation, and space. Publishers include the National Geographic Society, World Bank Group, U.S. Geological Survey, various environmental organizations, and Google itself.

The company says the purpose is to make “it easier for authoritative data providers to make sure their mapping content is accessible and useful.” Maps in the gallery come up in search query responses, and in Google Maps and Google Earth.

“Organizations using Maps Gallery can communicate critical information, build awareness and inform the public at-large,” writes Google Maps product manager Jordan Breckenridge in a company blog post announcing Maps Gallery.

The 3Tier maps in the gallery include the same data the company made available to renewable energy planners in December through the International Renewable Energy Association‘s Global Renewable Energy Atlas.

Benjamin Romano is editor of Xconomy Seattle. Email him at bromano [at] xconomy.com. Follow @bromano

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