Across the federal government, Open Data Initiatives aim to “liberate” government data to empower entrepreneurs, improve the lives of Americans, and create jobs. An example of this process is the way that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration makes weather data freely available for download by anyone. This open data has been used to improve weather newscasts, mobile applications, websites, and even insurance plans. Following this model, the Energy Data Initiative seeks to encourage the Energy Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, the General Services Administration, and other agencies with energy-related data to improve public access by offering bulk downloads and application programming interfaces (APIs), tools that make it easier for other websites and computer programs to connect to a dataset.
Because so many agencies have energy-related data to contribute, keeping track of all these data access tools can be tricky. Fortunately, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has created a visual browser of available energy data APIs. In addition to looking pretty, this browser allows you to find new energy APIs based on keywords, so you can easily find data services that cover wind energy, building efficiency, ENERGY STAR®, or a host of other topics. Not interested in the visualization? OpenEI also offers the API data as a download. For non-API data resources, check out OpenEI's hackathon page.
As more data services are created, NREL will continue adding them to their web, so let us know if you find an energy data API that should be included.