The U.S. Department of Energy is relaunching a mapping tool designed to help identify areas of the country that are ideal for uses such as wind and solar farms, and has updated it to allow users to specify the type of project they’re siting.
The Geospatial Energy Mapper, or GEM, launched in 2013 and has been “redesigned, rebranded and reengineered,” DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory said in a Tuesday press release. The lab, which hosts the software, updated its architecture and made it more user-friendly.
GEM provides 190 mapping layers, including demographics and utilities, and models for more than 40 types of energy infrastructure, such as utility-scale solar. The updated software now provides mapping themes that users can select to load multiple layers associated with specific projects, like electric vehicle charging stations.
Argonne said users can view the map with those layer sets applied “without having to manually browse the mapping catalog and add individual layers to the map.” In addition, the tool provides almost 100 modeling criteria, including population density, proximity to nearest substation, slope, wildfire risk and low-income household percentage.
GEM also allows for nine types of energy resources to be analyzed for development: biomass, coal, geothermal, natural gas, nuclear, solar, storage, hydroelectric and wind.
Argonne said GEM’s modeling features make it possible for users to generate a customized heat map showing which parts of the U.S. are ideal for siting specific energy resources and infrastructures.
GEM is expected to have as diverse a user base as its predecessor did, including government planners and regulators, private industry, energy nonprofits and public service commissions.
GEM is currently available to use. Argonne will host a tutorial of the software on Jan. 17.