Renewable energy app ready to feed hungry minds

The renewable energy sector has been growing fast, and more and more people – particularly potential investors – are seeking information on little known areas to venture into.

Although some forms of renewable energy have been around for decades, there has been almost no mapping of the industry. Sure, companies have looked into their particular areas of interests, but until the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), an intergovernmental organisation that supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future, launched in 2009, there was little aggregated information available.

The Abu Dhabi-based organisation has now created an app to feed hungry minds on the subject – allowing users to search for renewable energy resources anywhere in the world, whether from sources such as wind and solar or marine, hydro, geothermal and bioenergy. And all this from their smartphone.

Launched earlier this month, the Global Atlas pocket is a free app available for download on all platforms including BlackBerry 10, iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

At present it claims to be the only global tool of its kind, combining 1,000 maps from 67 governments and 50 data centres.

The idea is that users can overlay information listed in the catalogue to help identify areas of interest for potential projects or business ventures.

When I used the app, I learnt that my home state – Mississippi in the US – has little going on in terms of renewable energy. However, there are a few chances for biofuel feedstock, cassava, to be planted in neighbouring states.

The app is still in its early stages so there were a few niggles. The Android version crashed on my Samsung Galaxy 4 whenever I tried to go back to the original search to type in a new area. The iOS app was much easier to use on my iPad Air 2.

There really isn’t anything like this app, but there are two paid apps offering scope on an individual basis. One is Solar Expert, which costs Dh36.99 and helps users to evaluate and optimise a solar photovoltaic project to see the potential financial performance. There is also Windfarm Locator, Dh14.99, which turns your mobile device into a global wind farm monitoring platform to see energy production from wind farms around the world in real time.

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