Renewable energy, such as wind, solar, and geothermal, can sometimes be difficult to find optimal locations for. How are, or can, satellites be used to assist in finding the optimal locations for renewable energy generation?
closed as too broad by Nathan Tuggy, Fred, Brian Tompsett - 汤莱恩, TildalWave Jan 27 '16 at 15:23
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Earth observation from space is crucial in many ways for renewable energy companies.
Earth observation is crucial for weather forecasts. Most forms of renewable energy are weather-dependent:
- Solar energy performs best when the sun is shining.
- Wind energy performs best when it's windy (within limits).
- Hydro energy requires well-filled reservoirs, which requires rainfall and snowfall.
For short-term planning of electricity, it is crucial to know the short-term weather forecast. In fact, if you're better at forecasting the weather than the market, you can get seriously rich by trading in wind and solar energy.
For long-term planning of locations for any of those, Earth observation from space is equally crucial, as we need to know the climate. Ground-based observations are only limited to specific spots, and reanalysis data relies heavily on satellite measurements. Reanalysis data in turn informs decision-takers of where is a suitable spot for solar, wind, or hydro plants.
Solar- Satellites commonly measure the appearance radiation of the Earth as reflected from the Sun. They also measure cloud cover. This can assist in finding areas with few clouds and bright sunlight. Furthermore, they can help find areas where there will be minimal impact
Wind- Wind speeds can be detected using a scatterometer. The speeds are over large areas, and are primarily used to detect storms, but could be used to assist in finding optimal areas for wind farms. The winds detected tend to be higher than wind farms typically can measure.
Geothermal- GOCE is a satellite that detects unusually warm spots in the crust, which allow for easy geothermal energy production.
Let me add there are satellites that monitor the oceans, in particular waves, tides and currents.
These are all sources of renewable energy, either used already or with systems for harvesting them being developed, and the satellite data can definitely help with placing these.