Microsoft to provide AI technology for new renewable energy atlas

Alice Chambers
Alice Chambers
By Alice Chambers on 23 September 2022
Microsoft to provide AI technology for new renewable energy atlas
Unsplash/@NASA

Microsoft is working with Planet Labs and The Nature Conservancy to develop the Global Renewables Watch (GRW), a digital atlas that will use artificial intelligence (AI) and satellite imagery to map and measure renewable energy.

The three firms plan to update the atlas twice a year to help nations access information about their renewable energy capacity and support in how to use it. Users will be able to evaluate the global transition to clean energy by tracking utility-scale solar and wind installations on Earth.

“The world needs access to data in order to make responsible environmental decisions, and the GRW will serve as a critical tool for understanding humanity’s progress toward fulfilling the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and meeting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 7 to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all,” said Juan Lavista Ferres, vice president and chief data scientist at Microsoft.

The GRW aims to provide data that is currently restricted by private organisations by combining Microsoft’s AI with high-resolution satellite imagery, provided by Planet Labs.

“Each of the partners brings unique knowledge and value-add to this initiative,” said Will Marshall, co-founder and CEO of Planet Labs. “You can’t manage what you can’t measure, so by combining Microsoft’s AI and cloud computing capabilities, Planet’s comprehensive and high-resolution satellite imagery, and The Nature Conservancy’s deep subject-matter expertise, we hope to build a powerful platform for surfacing — and democratising access to — renewable energy data.”

The first global inventory of the atlas is expected to be complete by early 2023 and the findings will be made available at: www.globalrenewableswatch.org  

“The theme for Climate Week NYC this year is ‘getting it done,’ and to do that, we need to move from pledges to progress,” said Jennifer Morris, CEO of The Nature Conservancy. “Global Renewables Watch is exactly the kind of action we need to see. This will be a publicly accessible resource to help researchers and policymakers understand current capacities and gaps so that decision-makers can scale much-needed renewable energy resources in a responsible, nature-friendly way.”

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