A multi-criteria GIS analysis for siting of utility-scale photovoltaic solar plants in county Kilkenny, Ireland
Abstract: Renewable energy is the keyword for energy industry sector in the world today. Solar energy has a huge potential, able to fulfill increasing energy demand and growing its share of energy sector. Republic of Ireland has one of the lowest solar energy deployment rates in Europe, although climatic conditions have been proved to be acceptable. The purpose of this study was to assess potential sites for utility-scale photovoltaic solar plants in county Kilkenny in south-east Ireland. The study was based on Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and Multi-Criteria Decision Making (MCDM). Different datasets from Ordnance Survey Ireland, European Environment Agency, Environmental Protection Agency Ireland and The United States Geological Survey were used for the analysis. Firstly, factors were identified and weighted according to the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP), indicating different suitability classes. Secondly, separately constraints were identified to produce a final constraints layer showing the unsuitable locations. Finally, the weighted overlay of factors and the Boolean constraints layers were multiplied together to produce the suitability map for the study area. The constraints accounted for 85.11% of the study area and 0.67% of the study area was found to fulfill all the required criteria and to be suitable for utility-scale solar plants. Majority of the suitable areas were scattered in the northeast of the county, exemplifying how topography influences incoming solar radiation as the most important factor for solar energy generation.
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