Environmental Science Division (EVS) a Division of Argonne National Laboratory
Program Highlights Index

Renewable Energy Development: Databases, Tools, and Analyses

For over 20 years, EVS has used geospatial databases and technologies for environmental analysis of energy technologies and programs, with a focus on renewable energy.

EVS has developed extensive geospatial libraries of energy and environmental data to support our work, partnered with a multi-disciplinary team of scientists and engineers to analyze impacts of potential projects and programs, created models to simulate energy and environmental processes, and produced web-based and desktop tools to help stakeholders understand issues and participate in decision making.

The geographic context of energy and environmental issues is so fundamental to decision making that many of our projects routinely involve geospatial data, tools, analysis, modeling, and visualization. EVS libraries of geospatial information, which are actively maintained to support a diverse mix of projects, can be accessed rapidly and shared internally and externally. EVS has over 10 staff members primarily trained in geographic information system (GIS) and remote sensing disciplines, and many others have significant skills in these disciplines. In addition to traditional GIS activities such as cartography and data processing, we perform advanced analysis and modeling (such as individual-based models of trout in stream ecosystems), along with modeling to determine suitable locations for energy zones. An excellent web development team extends our capabilities to design, create, and host convenient web-based mapping tools providing geospatial visualization and tools to large and diverse audiences.

One current notable project is creation of the Eastern Interconnection State's Planning Council (EISPC) Energy Zones Mapping Tool (https://eispctools.anl.gov), an interactive web application that spans nine different clean energy resources (biomass, coal with carbon sequestration, geothermal, natural gas, nuclear, solar, storage, water, and wind) and includes a library of over 230 mapping layers, interactive models, and reports covering more than 30 energy production technologies, with a searchable database of energy policies and incentives.

EISPC Energy Zones Mapping Tool, showing (left) model results for enhanced geothermal project suitability, with a user-input analysis area, and (right) a report of wave energy along the coast of New Jersey.
EISPC Energy Zones Mapping Tool, showing (left) model results for enhanced geothermal project suitability, with a user-input analysis area, and (right) a report of wave energy along the coast of New Jersey. [Source: Argonne National Laboratory]

Another notable project is the Interactive Renewable Energy Atlas of the United States, a 17.8-Gb geospatial database of renewable energy, environmental resources, and federal lands, which has a user-friendly desktop interface.

User interface of the Interactive Renewable Energy Atlas of the United States.
User interface of the Interactive Renewable Energy Atlas of the United States. [Source: Argonne National Laboratory]

The Solar Energy Environmental Mapper is an interactive, web-based mapping tool to display environmental data for the southwestern United States in the context of utility-scale solar energy development. This tool provides access to screening-level data concerning resources and constraints, as well as analysis tools to help improve siting decisions.

Solar Energy Environmental Mapper web-based mapping application interface (left) and interactive web-based photo panorama (right).
Solar Energy Environmental Mapper web-based mapping application interface (left) and interactive web-based photo panorama (right). [Source: Argonne National Laboratory]

The Wyoming Wind and Transmission Study for the Bureau of Land Management includes a secure web-based mapping portal for stakeholders, geospatial analysis to determine areas most suited for wind energy development, and plans for comprehensive environmental analysis of potential impacts of wind-powered energy production and transmission in Wyoming.

Wyoming Wind and Transmission Study geospatial data viewer.
Wyoming Wind and Transmission Study geospatial data viewer. [Source: Argonne National Laboratory]

Other notable current projects are databases and web applications for homeland and national security and an Environmental Risk Calculation tool for identifying biota and aquatic habitats at greatest risk for potential conflicts with future energy development.

Related Program Areas

See the Program Highlights Index for a complete list of EVS program highlights.

photo of James Kuiper
GIS Project Developer/Senior Analyst
Capabilities: Planning and development of spatial databases, models, analysis methods, and related interactive web-based interfaces; application of spatial methods to energy planning, environmental impact assessment, and environmental risk; emergency planning; software design and development.