Renewable or clean energy is currently at the centre of many conversations. Its growth and need are palpable. To stay on trend, they have no choice but to include GIS in their strategic planning. If you are interested in finding out why, here you will discover all the value they bring to the energy companies.
Renewable energies in Spain, unstoppable
According to the summary report on renewable energies “The Spanish electricity system”, issued by Red Eléctrica de España, we are living in a golden age for the sector. In it, they highlight data such as:
- Spain’s renewable energy generation stock at the end of 2021 amounted to 64,182 MW, 46.7% of total generation, a record high.
- This was mainly due to the increase in solar photovoltaic capacity, which contributed 80.4% of the new capacity, increasing its production by 36.9%.
- Wind energy is the most relevant, with 23.3 % of total production, the highest annual share on record.
- Photovoltaic solar energy accounted for 8.1%.
This increase in numbers is largely due to the Geographic Information Systems or GIS, which are very actively involved in the development of the infrastructure necessary for the deployment of these systems. Let’s see how they do it.
How are GIS involved in the installation of renewable energy plants?
Within the role of GIS in deciding the best locations for wind farms, one of the key factors is the identification of areas with high wind potential. A potential that will be determined by the strength, time and frequency with which they blow.
On the other hand, the characteristics of the terrain must be considered, such as whether the ground is suitable to withstand the weight of the wind turbines, the slopes, the ease of access for operators, or the proximity of stations or power lines.
Another variable that should not be overlooked here is the fact that there are protected areas in which mills may not be placed under any circumstances, either because of the environment or because they are areas with valuable historical and artistic heritage.
There are also national, regional or municipal laws that prohibit such installations in the vicinity of villages, roads, beaches, etc.
Analysing all this is much more agile and effective if we have the appropriate GIS, which provide speed and security when making these important decisions.
Just as for wind energy we have talked about the potential of wind, here it is time to highlight the potential of solar radiation as an essential factor in knowing where to install the panels.
As with wind farms, regulatory restrictions, land quality and proximity to valuable facilities also need to be assessed.
But when we talk about solar energy, we are not only talking about large areas covered with photovoltaic panels, but we can also find these panels on buildings.
In these cases, solar irradiance data can be combined with other GIS data, such as orthophotos, LiDAR point clouds or cadastre maps. As a result, it would be possible to obtain the roofs where the greatest benefit can be obtained from this renewable source.
GIS in the distribution of energy from renewable sources
Of course, this energy now has to be delivered to power stations, transformers and, of course, to the end consumer. And here too, GIS has a lot to say, as power lines cover large amounts of land, with corresponding variations, which need to be known as much as possible.
Therefore, issues such as the following need to be taken into account:
- Whether the soils are suitable to support the installation of towers, or whether they have the appropriate topography and slope to ensure stability and facilitate maintenance.
- Environment: presence of vegetation cover, rivers, protected areas or species.
- Geological: avoid areas of high seismic activity, as well as the aforementioned soil composition.
GIS for energy companies to win more and better customers with renewable installations
Beyond grid infrastructure for clean energy sources, GIS can also play a role in related marketing and commercial actions.
For example, if we see areas in a city where there are a significant number of solar panels, it may be a sign that the residents of that neighbourhood are willing to invest in them.
GIS also helps to locate where potential customers live. Thus, if the company knows that most of the people who have solar panels are middle-aged and have a certain purchasing power or educational level, it can simply identify them on a map and focus its sales actions there.
If you have come this far, we hope we have shed some more light on how Geographic Information Systems are great allies when it comes to promoting the establishment of renewable energies in a situation like the current one.
Do you want to know more about it? Do you want to know how Geograma is able to face this challenge with our technology and solutions? Get in touch with us whenever you want and let’s talk about it in complete peace of mind and without any obligation.