The Ventus Project at Arizona State University is seeking the public’s help to map out the location of all the world’s power plants. The project is led by Dr. Kevin Robert Gurney and seeks to measure carbon dioxide output at those power plants. Forty percent of the world’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are due to power plant’s burning fossil fuels. According to the Ventus Project site, little is known about power plant locations and emission rates outside of the United States. Better information about emissions from global power plants is needed for more accurate climate change and global carbon cycle models. Gurney explains, “It turns out that we know far less about fossil fuels than we thought we did. We could use some help.” In the press release video Gurney outlines what the effort is hoping to accomplish: “The logic is, that for every power plant in the world, there’s a dozen people who either live next to it, work in it, or knows somebody who works in it, and we just need one of those people to put information about it into this website.
Users can participate in this GIS data gathering project by pinpointing on Google Maps local power plant locations. Users can either refine the existing data of over 25,000 power plants (provided from such efforts as Global Energy Observatory and the Center for Global Development’s CARMA effort) or add a new power plant location. It is estimated that there are over 30,000 power plants located around the world. Users can enter as little information as the power plant name and geographic location. If known, users can also submit information about the annual carbon and carbon dioxide emissions, fuel type and quantity consumed, annual generation and capacity, and the year and source of the information. The information gathered will be folded into a model used by Gurney’s team to produce better information about the global carbon cycle.
Data on the map can be inputted anonymously, but to spur interest in the project, there are bragging rights provided to the registered users who input the most data. The most prolific Citizen Scientist will be crowned in 2014 as ” Supreme Power Plant Emissions GURU” and will be presented with and engraved trophy and will be named as co-author on the research paper produced by Gurney’s team as a result of this crowdourced data gathering project.