Science and news organization Climate Central announced the release of its updated WeatherPower tool, which creates localized, graphical estimates of wind- and solar-generated electricity for every state, county, media market, and congressional district in the U.S.
WeatherPower estimates the electricity produced locally (yesterday, today, and tomorrow) by combining data on existing installed wind and solar power generation capacity with information on yesterday’s actual weather and today’s and tomorrow’s forecasts. Results are presented in customizable, production-ready graphics that display the total electricity generated in megawatt-hours and as a percentage of electricity used in homes. Additional metrics are also calculated, including a Power Index (0-10) reflecting how good the sun or wind is that day for power generation.
“In a community already attuned to weather’s impact on our farm economy, people immediately grasp its connection to the power we need,” said WQAD (ABC) meteorologist Eric Sorensen, who featured a beta version of the updated tool in a recent weathercast. “Using this material allows me to make weather and climate relatable to my audience. Being an authority on the subject means that as impacts increase, more people will seek me for the right information.”
WeatherPower allows users to see the percentage of households powered by wind in a given region, and the percentage of daily electricity cost saved by solar power. Newly added features allow users to quantify local wind and solar power generation in terms of CO2 emissions avoided, equivalent car miles traveled, trees planted, or smartphones charged–making estimates of electricity generation relatable to personal experiences. While WeatherPower was developed to help TV meteorologists communicate another dimension of weather’s effect on audiences’ daily lives, the tool is openly available for public use.
“Climate Central’s WeatherPower provides a great tool to help Americans understand not just what’s possible with renewable energy, but also how much is already happening, said Gregory Whetstone, president and CEO of American Council On Renewable Energy. “Talking about today’s wind and solar power production is as easy as talking about the weather.”
— Solar Builder magazine