Exploring Renewable Energy with Google Earth

Reader Contribution by Staff

If you enjoy getting lost in maps, it’s a lot of fun to explore Google Earth. To get started, all you have to do is go to the Google Earth website and download the free program. After it’s installed you can start exploring, or add additional layers. (See the Google Earth Outreach page for options.)

Many of the layers have an environmental theme, and they’re all intriguing. Explore the Earth’s oceans! Find fair trade products! Check out the melting polar ice caps!

I looked at a few different layers related to renewable energy, but the one I found most interesting was this Protected Areas and Energy Development Map, which was developed by Audubon and the National Resources Defense Council. It’s a map of 13 Western states, which plots significant wildlife areas in an effort to avoid conflicts with energy development.

On a similar theme, the EPA has a Google Earth layer called the Renewable Energy Interactive Mapping Tool that shows former mining sites and brownfields, where renewable energy development would be welcome. I admit, I found this layer a little more difficult to use, although it’s still interesting. Take a look!