An Arizona State University team has taken an innovative approach to gathering information on global power plants that burn fossil fuels, a project that the team has dubbed the Ventus Project. The team, led by atmospheric scientist and ecologist Dr. Kevin Robert Gurney, has designed and launched a website and an online “game” in order to gather information on fossil fuel power plants—and their carbon dioxide emissions—in countries outside of the United States.

Up until this point, the Arizona State team has relied upon data from the Center for Global Development to launch their project. For several thousand dollars, the Center for Global Development has provided the team with a list of the world’s power plants and the cities that they are near, and using this information, the team has been able to track down and plot the location of around 25,000 power plants worldwide.

However, significant details about these global power plants are often missing—including vital information about the type of fuel that the plants burn, how much electricity they produce, and the amounts of carbon dioxide they generate.

That missing information is precisely what Dr. Gurney and his team hopes to gather with their project, through the help of internet users across the globe.


Team member and GIS specialist Darragh O’Keefe gathering data for the Ventus Project. Credit: Sandra Leander.

The concept is simple: participants from around the world can join the team’s website, fill out forms with relevant information on the power plants in their local areas, and receive points for each piece of useable information they contribute to the website.

The Arizona State team will identify whoever has contributed the most useable data to the project in 2014, and will offer the winner several prizes. The contest winner will receive an engraved trophy by an Arizona artist, be highlighted on the team’s Facebook page and Twitter, and be listed as a co-author of a paper the team plans to write on how crowd-sourcing has helped facilitate the Ventus Project.

Ultimately, the Arizona State University team hopes to use the data they have gathered on the world’s power plants to estimate the amount of carbon dioxide that the plants are emitting, and to help find solutions to lessen the impact fossil fuel power plants are having on the environment.

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Pictured above is a sample of the power plants in the Arizona State team’s database. The team hopes that internet users from around the globe will provide them with enough information on the world’s fossil fuel power plants in order to predict how much carbon dioxide each one generates. Credit: Arizona State University.

More information on this project can be found at the team’s website,

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