Tools & Templates

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Setting a Vision Statement for the Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) Process – Defining the Scope of a Project

This activity helps users set a vision statement for their REZ process. The vision statement establishes the goal and clearly states the scope of the REZ process. The exercises walk through the key components of a vision statement together with actual examples from the Texas Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ) and the Western Renewable Energy Zones (WREZ) initiatives from the United States. Upon completion of this activity, users will have a clearer understanding of the vision for their REZ process that can later be included in applicable documents that formalize the process.

Adapting the REZ Process – Developing a Specific Planning Process

This activity walks through the first 3 steps of the REZ process to help users adapt the REZ process to their specific planning context (such as a country or region). The activity clarifies the key outputs, estimated timeframe, and central decision makers of each of these initial steps. The activity helps decision makers set the scope of the REZ process. Upon completion of this exercise users will have (1) an estimated timeline for the REZ process; (2) a proposed composition of the REZ process institutional structure—including the technical advisory committee and working groups; (3) an initial set of renewable energy resources of interest and development exclusions for the identification of study areas; and (3) initial criteria for evaluation of private sector interest in candidate REZs.

Identifying Study Areas in the REZ Transmission Planning Process with Renewable Energy Data Explorer

This activity introduces users to Renewable Energy (RE) Data Explorer (, the flagship geospatial analysis tool for RE development from RE-Explorer. Users will use their computers to follow a hands-on demonstration of the RE Data Explorer to perform an introductory exercise of identifying REZs. The exercises walk through (1) using RE Data Explorer; (2) use of the technical potential assessment tool for utility-scale solar photovoltaics; and (3) use of economic considerations for identifying a set of study areas. Users will have to select a country that is currently including in the RE Data Explorer tool to complete the exercises.


Renewable Energy Data Explorer

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

The Renewable Energy (RE) Data Explorer, the flagship tool of the RE Explorer, facilitates renewable energy decision making, investment, and deployment through a dynamic, online analytical tool. RE Explorer provides renewable energy data, analytical tools, and technical assistance to developers, policymakers, and decision makers in developing countries. It enables meaningful decisions that support low-emission development and ultimately reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This tool can help planners to identify and visualize potential REZs through the evaluation of accessibility and feasibility (technical potential) as well as energy resource quality and quantity. Additionally, the RE Data Catalog is a central location for research and discovery of the renewable energy resource and spatial data that power RE Data Explorer, as well as a place for researchers to contribute data in support of the project.

Multi-criteria Analysis for Planning Renewable Energy (MapRE)

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)

The MapRE initiative provides a framework for the systematic identification and valuation of areas for RE development–focusing mainly on solar and wind technologies–for developing countries. By providing government officials, regulators, utilities, and other stakeholders information about multiple siting criteria for possible REZs in the form of reproducible planning tools, the MapRE initiative seeks to improve the planning of low-carbon, cost-effective, socially and environmentally responsible energy systems. Currently, the emphasis is on utility-scale solar and wind zones, but the spatial models may also be applied to identify off-grid development.

Siting criteria estimated for each potential suitable zone or project area include the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) of generation, transmission connection, and road access; distance to the nearest major load center, human footprint score (a proxy for degree of human disturbance), capacity value of wind (a measure of how well a wind generation time series profile matches the demand time series profile), and population density. These and other criteria for mapped zones are available for viewing and comparison through the interactive PDF and web-based maps and excel spreadsheet tools. All non-proprietary data inputs and outputs are available for download.


SAM from NREL is a performance and financial model designed to facilitate decision making for people involved in the renewable energy industry including policy analysts, technology developers, project managers and engineers, and researchers. SAM makes performance predictions and cost of energy estimates for grid-connected power projects based on installation and operating costs and system design parameters that users specify as inputs to the model.

Planners can use SAM to estimate costs and performances of potential projects within specific study areas of interest. These can aid in evaluating economic potential of renewable energy resources.


PVWatts® Calculator from NREL helps users estimate the energy production and cost of energy of grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) energy systems throughout the world. Private sector installers and others can use it to easily develop estimates of the performance of potential PV installations. PVWatts® can be used by planners in evaluating performance of potential PV installations within study areas as part of economic assessments.

U.S. Eastern Interconnection States' Planning Council (EISPC)

EZMT is a free online mapping tool to identify potential energy resource areas and energy corridors in the United States. EZMT is a map-based tool for identifying areas within the U.S. that may be suitable for power generation and energy corridors and considers traditional generation and renewable energy resources (biomass, coal, geothermal, natural gas, nuclear, solar, storage, hydropower, and wind). The platform also includes tools to generate and analyze potential transmission corridor routes.

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