Environmental Science Division (EVS)a Division of Argonne National Laboratory

Interactive Web-based mapping tool for energy zone planning launched

April 25, 2013

Argonne has launched a new, interactive, web-based tool, available at http://ezmt.anl.gov, for planning energy zones in the eastern United States as part of an Energy Zones Study for the Eastern Interconnection States’ Planning Council (EISPC). The scope of the project includes the U.S. portion of the Eastern Interconnection, the electrical transmission grid covering 39 states in the eastern United States.

The tool includes an extensive mapping library of energy resource and related information, interactive models to locate areas with high suitability for clean power generation, a variety of reports that can be run for user-specified regions, and a policy and incentives database.

The Energy Zones Study includes nine clean energy resource categories: biomass, clean coal (with carbon capture and sequestration), geothermal, natural gas, nuclear, solar, storage, water, and wind. For each of these major categories, energy resource data and information were compiled, reviewed, and assembled into a geographic information system (GIS) database for development of the new web-based tool, the EISPC Energy Zones Mapping Tool. The tool includes models and reports for 29 power generation and storage technologies capable of grid-level power production.

The mapping library in the tool contains over 260 layers, including energy resource, electrical transmission, pipelines, protected lands, habitat, hydrology, transportation, and many others. Models in the tool use maps of energy resource availability and other siting factors to create “heat maps” showing the suitability of areas for clean energy resource development.

Example suitability map for solar photovoltaic power technology
Example suitability map for solar photovoltaic power technology [Source: Argonne National Laboratory]

Additional information can be obtained in the tool by running reports for a county, state, or specific analysis area selected by the user. Reports provide model result summaries, additional energy resource information, policies and incentives, existing infrastructure information, and more. The site also provides brief descriptions of the energy technologies, libraries of static maps and documents, and other supporting information.

The DOE-funded EISPC Energy Zones Study is a collaborative effort of Argonne’s Environmental Science Division and Decision and Information Sciences Division; Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The laboratories have collaborated with Navigant Consulting and the Clean Energy States Alliance. In addition, organizations such as NatureServe, the National Audubon Society, and The Conservation Fund provided valuable support in compiling and organizing environmental information. Commercial data providers include Bentek Energy/Platts, AWS Truepower, and NatureServe.

Home page for the EISPC Energy Zones Mapping Tool
Home page for the EISPC Energy Zones Mapping Tool [Source: Argonne National Laboratory]
portrait of James Kuiper