Machine Learning and Geographic Information Systems for large-scale mapping of renewable energy potential

A promising pathway to follow in order to reach sustainable development goals is an increased reliance on renewable sources of energy. The optimized use of these energy sources, however, requires the assessment of their potential supply, along with the demand loads in locations of interest. In particular, large-scale supply estimation studies are needed in order to evaluate areas of high potential for each type of energy source for a particular region, and allow for the elaboration of efficient global energy strategies. In Switzerland, the "Energy Strategy 2050", initiated in 2011 by the Swiss Federal Council, sets an example with the ambitious goal of reaching a 50-80% reduction of CO2 emissions by the year 2050, with a clear course of action: phasing-out nuclear power, improving energy efficiency, and greatly increasing the use of renewables. This thesis develops a general data-driven strategy combining Geographic Information Systems and Machine Learning methods to map the large-scale energy potential for three very popular sources of decentralized energy systems: wind energy (using of horizontal axis wind turbines), geothermal energy (using very shallow ground source heat pumps) and solar energy (using photovoltaic solar panels over rooftops). For each of the three considered energy sources, an adapted methodology is suggested to assess its large-scale potential, by estimating multiple variables of interest (with a suitable time resolution, e.g. monthly or yearly), using widely available data, and combining these variables into potential values. These latter estimated variables, dictating the potential, include: (i) the monthly wind speed, and rural and urban topographic/obstacle configuration for wind energy, (ii) the ground thermal conductivity, volumetric heat capacity and monthly temperature gradient for geothermal energy, (iii) the monthly solar radiation, available area for PV panels over rooftops, geometrical characteristics of rooftops and monthly shading factors over rooftops for solar energy. The use of Machine Learning algorithms (notably Support Vector Machines and Random Forests) allows, given adequate features and training data (examples for some locations), for the prediction of the latter variables at unknown locations, along with the uncertainty attached to the predictions. In each case, the developed methodology is set-up with an aim to be applied for Switzerland, meaning that it relies on Swiss available energy-related data. Such data, however, including meteorological, topographic, ground/soil-related and building-related data, is becoming progressively available for most countries, making it possible to widely generalize the proposed methodologies. Results show that Machine Learning is adequate for energy potential estimation, as the multiple required predictions and spatial extrapolations are achieved with reasonable accuracy. In addition, final values are validated with other existing data or studies when possible, and show general agreement. The application of the suggested potential methodologies in Switzerland outline the very significant potential for the considered renewables. In particular, there is a relatively high potential for Rooftop-Mounted solar PV panels, as it is estimated that they could generate a total electricity production of 16.3 TWh per year, which corresponds to 25.3% of the annual electricity demand in 2017.


Advisor(s):
Scartezzini, Jean-Louis
Mohajeri Pour Rayeni, Nahid
Year:
2019
Publisher:
Lausanne, EPFL
Keywords:
Laboratories:
LESO-PB




 Record created 2019-03-27, last modified 2019-06-19

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