By Matthias Frye
Due to climate change and the war in Ukraine, public opinion in Europe is in favour of expanding renewable energies. However, when it comes to building new sites, things quickly get complicated. Numerous economic, environmental, and political factors influence the suitability of a site. With the help of data science, suitable sites can be found very efficiently.
In recent decades, the severe consequences of global warming have continuously strengthened the political commitment to sustainable energy. The 2018 climate and energy framework of the EU is intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 per cent below 1990 levels and to increase renewable energy's share of electricity generation to more than 30 per cent.
In addition, Russian foreign policy has led to a significant increase of geopolitical tensions, culminating in the war in Ukraine. This creates an urgent need for Europe to become independent of fossil energy and to reach maximum self-sufficiency in energy supply.
However, a central challenge for the expansion of wind and solar energy at larger scale is the sufficient provision of suitable land.
What Makes A Suitable Location
The selection of the best possible location for renewable energy has a major impact on the approval process and long-term profitability. The suitability of a site depends on several economic, environmental, and political factors:
- Energy potential: Depending on the location and slope of the site, average wind speeds and average solar radiation vary considerably.
- Size and orientation of the land: The economic viability of a site requires a minimum size of the plot. The ideal orientation varies depending on the use for wind or solar energy.
- Proximity to demand and transmission lines: Ideally, a site should be located close to consumers and existing transmission lines.
- Natural hazards: The site should not be threatened by earthquakes, landslides, forest fires, storms or floods.
- Buildings: Minimum distances from houses, airports, roads, and railway lines are required.
- Nature conservation: Installations must not be erected within national parks or nature reserves and must not endanger species conservation.
The location must not only meet today's needs, but also be optimally suited for the future. Therefore, preference should be given to sites that have expansion potential, especially if they are in regions where energy demand is expected to rise due to population growth.
How Data Science Can Help
Modern data science approaches are well suited to look at complex and diverse geospatial data and use it as hard and soft criteria for decision support. Hundreds of site features can be combined, filtered, and analysed automatically with respect to specific project requirements. By using Geo Data Science, renewable energy companies can quickly and easily find sites that offer high value, longevity and reduce risk. Lengthy and costly processing and analysis of information from different sources and outsourcing the identification of suitable sites to external experts can be avoided.
Smart Sites Solution
SmartSites offers a detailed analysis of potential locations and enables investment decisions based on accurate and diverse economic and social data. Different criteria can be individually combined and weighted. Orbica's solution makes the data intuitively usable and enables independent, faster, and better location decisions. This way you avoid wasting time with tedious research in different information sources or having to resort to experts.
Whether solar, wind or hybrid power plants, our solution helps you to select the most relevant locations so that you can be on the market as quickly and effectively as possible. Optimise the most important economic and ecological success factors and achieve sustainable success.