Resources for Sustainability: Maps Serve as Guides to Visualizing Issues and Building Solutions

Resources for Sustainability: Maps Serve as Guides to Visualizing Issues and Building Solutions

From renewable energy resources comparisons and feedstock supply data to reports of known toxins, maps provide invaluable and accessible insight into issues and solutions related to sustainability.

According to popular wisdom, a picture is worth a thousand words. Maps facilitate this idea by providing visual representations of information from which we can gather facts, draw conclusions, and provide context within our place in the world, all to help determine best courses of action for communities.

This entry in Team Gemini’s ongoing “Resources for Sustainability” series will highlight a selection of maps from our Resources compilation to help you make the most out of using maps about sustainability. Besides sharing different sources for and types of map information, we will present maps that are both static and interactive.

  • Static maps: Present information that require no other input, and were created at a particular point in time. These are usually easy to view and understand, and can be a great reference point for general information.
  • Interactive maps: Present maps that filter the information they display based on user input. These can vary by many variables, including time, location, as well as other inputs. Maps of this variety are usually more complex, but also provide more detailed information that can lead to a richer understanding of issues.

For convenience, we’ll also divide maps by topic areas and ease of use. Some maps include such a wealth of information, it takes time to digest what’s available; other maps are much easier to understand and reference.

Topic areas include a range related to renewable energy, including:

  • General: Provides a mix of renewable energy resources such as solar, geothermal, wind, hydropower, and others. Some of these maps highlight information on a global scale.
  • Solar Energy: Present information on solar energy, from photovoltaics, concentrating solar thermal, and more.
  • Biomass: From feedstock supplies and alternative fuel creation to power production, biomass provides many different uses for sustainability applications. These maps highlight a variety of these uses.
  • Wind Energy: Wind technologies continue to advance and provide significant numbers in renewable power production. These maps highlight prevalence of wind resources to measure potential power output.

The following are some of the top maps we’ve discovered. Feel free to explore more on our Resources page, or contact us if you’d like to recommend others.

Featured Resources

Map Map Type Topic Description Accessibility
MapSearch Static General Search for static maps related to renewable energy resources. Easy
RE Atlas Interactive General Explore basic renewable energy resource data. Intermediate
FEMP Screening Map Interactive Solar Energy Explore the market potential for various solar technologies. Intermediate
The Solar Power Prospector Interactive Solar Energy Find sites for developing utility-scale solar. Intermediate
Global RE Opportunity Interactive Solar Energy Perform technical and economic analysis for a variety of solar technologies. Advanced
BioFuels Atlas Interactive Biomass See where biomass feedstocks can be used for biofuels production. Advanced
BioPower Atlas Interactive Biomass See where biomass feedstocks can be used for power production. Advanced
Wind Prospector Interactive Wind A tool to measure wind energy. Advanced
Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program Interactive General Learn About Toxic Chemicals in Your Community. Easy
Renewables Interactive Map Interactive General The REN21 Renewables Interactive Map is a research tool for tracking the development of renewable energy worldwide. Easy

For a full listing of Team Gemini sustainability tools and resources, please visit our resources page at