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Free Web map shows where the wind blows

Renewable-energy assessment company 3Tier releases global map that shows the potential for wind power by revealing wind resources around the world.

When it comes to wind energy, knowing how hard the wind blows is like knowing how much oil you have in the ground.

Renewable-energy assessment company 3Tier released a map that depicts the wind "resources" around the world on Monday at the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference (WIREC) 2008.

The Firstlook map, which uses Google Maps, falls under the 3Tier initiative "Remapping the World," which the company says marks the first time valuable wind resource information has been made available for free.

Before erecting any turbine, wind developers need to choose a spot carefully and then use special equipment, such as a "met" tower, to measure wind over time.

3Tier's map provides data on wind at 80 meters high over an area of 15 kilometers for a year. The company has determined that more than 40 percent of the world's land mass has wind speed of more than 6 meters per second. A lot of that land is not open to development, but the data indicates that there's a lot more potential for wind-generated electricity.

3Tier believes that the Firstlook data might be most helpful for developing countries looking into wind energy projects.

"The map provides enough resolution so countries and organizations can begin to look at the potential wind resource at a regional level," said Kenneth Westrick, CEO of 3Tier. "If we want developing nations to 'leapfrog' over fossil fuels, they need information about what renewable-energy resources, or combination of resources, exist."

The company is working on integrating solar-energy resources around the world into its mapping data.