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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?

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closed as too broad by Nathan Tuggy, Fred, Brian Tompsett - 汤莱恩, TildalWave Jan 27 '16 at 15:23

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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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.

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  • $\begingroup$ reanalysis - I just learned a new word! I wonder if you should add "but not too windy" to the second bullet - don't they shut down or somehow passivate wind turbines for extremely high winds in storms or other weather events? Tornado warnings last hours but hurricane/typhoons can take one or two days to pass. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 27 '16 at 13:16
  • $\begingroup$ @uhoh Well, yes. Extreme and hazardous weather of course affects everything in society, nothing special about renewable energy. $\endgroup$ – gerrit Jan 27 '16 at 13:52
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  • 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.

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  • $\begingroup$ lol thx for your answer, altough you just used my post to create your own question. But at the same time you answered my question: what data from the satellites do renewable energy companies use? answer: they use data based on ...,gathered by satellites, to find an optimal place to generate wind energy, etc... you went a step further, not useless at all (no sarcasm) $\endgroup$ – privetDruzia Jan 26 '16 at 22:14
  • $\begingroup$ I tried to ask your question in the way I thought you intended. It's not always an exact science... $\endgroup$ – PearsonArtPhoto Jan 26 '16 at 22:25
  • $\begingroup$ To the extent that near infra-red photography from satellite (or airborne) sensors can indicate the health of vegetation en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_edge this should be of help to growers of energy crops. I would be interested to hear if anyone can flesh this out with a real example. $\endgroup$ – Puffin Jan 27 '16 at 0:06
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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.

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