Power Watch: Illuminating the Power Sector through Open Data
Johannes Friedrich, Aaron Kressig, Colin McCormick, Logan Byers, Laura Valeri Malaguzzi, Roman Hennig
World Resources Institute, United States of America
Electricity fuels the global economy, helping people escape poverty and helping countries improve their standards of living. At the same time, the current power generation system has negative side effects on health, water resources, and the climate. To manage these trade-offs and better plan for the evolving power sector, decision makers need access to transparent, highly accurate information on power plant locations, production, impacts, and risks. Unfortunately, this type of information is not transparent, accessible, and centralized. This creates significant barriers for decision makers.
Power Watch is addressing this challenge by creating the most comprehensive open-source data platform on the world’s power sector in existence. Using a mix of manual and automated data collection techniques, the database currently contains over 25,000 power plants, 90% of global installed capacity, and includes key indicators such as location, fuel, capacity, generation, emissions, and water use. The database will continue to improve as we refine our data-collection and analysis methods.
The data’s centralized, open-access format will help to build trust among countries, track progress towards country-specific and collective climate and development goals, and enable countries to take credit for successes in increasing the amount of clean power on their national grid. In addition, Power Watch will provide a suite of online tools that address specific decision-making needs, such as global corporate emissions accounting, climate and water risk assessments, and energy access diagnoses.
Governments will be able to measure the effect of power generation policies on climate, pollution, water stress, and electricity access. Investors will be able to incorporate water risk, emissions, and other impacts into their decisions. Companies and cities will be able to monitor their greenhouse gas emissions from purchased electricity more easily and more accurately. Citizens will be empowered to better understand their local power systems and demand improvements.