How much solar and wind power is there? Microsoft effort using satellites, AI aims to find out – GeekWire

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Solar panels in Lind, Washington that will provide electricity to Avista Utilities customers. (Avista Utilities via Instagram)

In the race to curb climate change, solar panels and wind turbines are being installed across the planet – but no one knows exactly where and how much renewable energy is available.

Microsoft is therefore partnering with The Nature Conservancy and satellite company Planet Labs to fill this knowledge gap with the launch of the Global watch on renewable energies. effort announced today uses satellite imagery from Planet combined with artificial intelligence capabilities from Microsoft to create an atlas of large-scale solar and wind installations. The Nature Conservancy will help analyze the data.

The atlas will include imagery dating back to 2018 to track changes over time. The first inventory is expected early next year and will be updated twice a year.

The Microsoft-assisted project is sure to catalog the renewable energy efforts of cloud rival Amazon. The other Washington-based company announced this week 71 new clean energy projects around the world. Amazon is the largest renewable energy purchasing company with a total of 379 wind and solar projects in 21 countries. When the new facilities are complete, Amazon’s projects will produce 50,000 gigawatt hours of energy, about the amount needed to power 4.6 million US homes annually.

Microsoft has also invested of renewable energy, and both companies have committed to purchasing enough clean energy to cover all of their operations by 2025.

While tech companies are largely transparent in their clean energy disclosures, that’s not always the case in other countries and with other companies, which makes Global Renewables Watch an important tool, experts said. supporters.

“The world needs access to data in order to make responsible environmental decisions, and the Global Renewables Watch will serve as an essential tool for understanding humanity’s progress,” said Juan Lavista Ferres, vice president of Microsoft and chief data scientist, in a report.

“It will be a publicly available resource to help researchers and policymakers understand current capabilities and gaps so that policymakers can scale much-needed renewable energy resources in a responsible and nature-friendly way,” added The Nature Conservancy CEO Jennifer Morris.

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