A new interactive tool, named Renewables ninja, has been developed by researchers from Imperial College London and ETH Zurich with the ability to estimate the amount of renewable energy that could be generated at any location around the world at any given moment.
The tool was developed with the aim of improving the prediction of renewable output for both academic and industry purposes.
It is based on detailed geographical data about wind speeds and insolation collected over the past 30 years by Nasa. It combines this information with the technical specifications of wind turbines and solar panels in order to calculate the exact amount of energy that can be generated at any point on the Earth during the year.
‘Renewables ninja’ has already revealed that offshore wind farms in Europe only produce about 24% of their maximum capacity due to the inconsistent nature of the weather.
The tool has also discovered that despite Britain not being the sunniest country, on the best summer days, solar power now produces more energy than nuclear power.
Stefan Pfenninger, researcher at ETH Zürich, said: “Renewables ninja has already allowed us to answer important questions about the current and future renewable energy infrastructure across Europe and in the UK”.
However, wind and solar energies have a strong dependence on weather conditions, which can be difficult to integrate into national power systems that require consistency.
As noted by the developers, some of the challenges in modelling wind power stem from the fact that the tools are reliant on complex weather systems; gathering data may also be a challenge.
Nevertheless, ‘Renewables ninja’ has been beta-tested for six months and is now being used by 54 institutions across 22 countries, including the European Commission and the International Energy Agency.