Spatial assessment of the potential of renewable energy: the case of Ecuador

Cevallos, J., Ramos-Martin, J. (2018): “Spatial assessment of the potential of renewable energy: the case of Ecuador”. Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews, 81:1154-1165. Download at https://authors.elsevier.com/c/1Vg5A4s9Hvq8Xc

Screen Shot 2017-09-10 at 18.12.55Abstract: Although renewable energy represents a large share of the electric energy generation sources in Latin America, non-conventional sources such as solar or wind energies have not represented a big share of their electric energy systems. The first step to promote the use of these sources in the region is identifying the potential of each energy source, task that can be estimated with the use of spatial tools such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS). This study has reviewed a large list of GIS publications to select a methodology to identify suitable areas for the development of non-conventional renewable energy projects (REP), in order to estimate the maximum energy these technologies could contribute to a national electric energy system, and its applied to the Republic of Ecuador. By using GIS, it is sought to identify the sites where potential renewable energy plants could be located, and initially recommends geographic locations for the installation of measuring towers of solar and wind resources, in order to obtain more detailed information on their behavior. As a result, the areas with higher potential for the development of REP have been identified, and classified in spatial layers according its technology and location. These results show that solar PV is the technology with most suitable areas in the country and demonstrate particularly large potential in two regions: the Andes cordillera and Insular region, especially in the provinces of Loja, Pichincha and the Galapagos islands.

 

Keywords: Renewable-energy, GIS, Ecuador, Multi-criteria analysis

This study focuses on the assessment of potential locations for the implementation of non-conventional renewable energy projects, in order to estimate the maximum theoretical amount of energy they could contribute to the Ecuadorean’s energy system. By using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) tools, this study seeks to identify suitable areas where NCRE power plants could potentially be sited and classifies the results by regions. The evaluation can be used as a starting point to select the best locations for the installation of resource measuring towers, in order to obtain detailed behavioral data from these sources.

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Results show the provinces with the most suitable areas are located in the Andean and Insular regions. Here it can be observed that appropriate locations vary with each resource, however these are concentrated in only few provinces. The provinces of Loja, Pichincha, and Galapagos are the most benefited from the solar resource. It is in these provinces where optimal areas for implementation of SPV and CSP technologies are found. Provinces benefited with wind resources are distributed in the Andean region, however potential locations are limited to the provinces of Loja, Cañar, Chimborazo, Cotopaxi and Pichincha only.

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