The Climate Action Plan also set out a key goal that Essex “produces enough renewable energy within the County to meet its own needs by 2040”, which could be reached through a combination of large scale solar deployment on suitable land, a network of community energy neighbourhoods, and a county wide rooftop solar roll-out programme that includes utilising a bulk buying scheme to ensure price competitiveness.
With such an ambitious set of targets and only a short timeframe within which to deliver, it was clear to Essex County Council that a data driven approach to understand the scale of the solar opportunity within the area was needed, alongside a robust and county-wide evidence base which the Authority could utilise in order to rapidly identify and prioritise a potentially enormous volume of varied solar related projects.
"it was clear to Essex County Council that a data driven approach to understand the scale of the solar opportunity within the area was needed"
Geospatial Insight had previously collaborated with Essex County Council as part of the South Eastern New Energy project – an ERDF programme of works aimed at removing the non-technical barriers to decarbonisation. With this existing understanding of Geospatial Insight’s capabilities in extracting intelligence from location-based data sources – such as satellite imagery – for climate related applications, the Authority approached us to discuss a potential solution to the challenges they faced.
Geospatial Insight already had a strong track record in rooftop solar suitability assessments, having previously used automated contemporary analytical techniques to determine the solar potential of over 1000,000 buildings across Oxfordshire, Milton Keynes, Lambeth, Bournemouth, Winchester, and East Hants. Additionally, we were in the process of creating LOCATE SOLAR the first and most comprehensive database of solar suitability for over 23 million buildings in England.
LOCATE SOLAR the first and most comprehensive database of solar suitability for over 23 million buildings in England.
To deliver individual property level solar suitability Geospatial Insight utilised building polygons and LiDAR derived height products. Automated interrogation of the LiDAR DSM data within each building footprint was undertaken to determine the roofs with potential suitability for solar installations by identifying the roof pitch, aspect, and useable area. This information was then further analysed to calculate the irradiation values. Onward calculations were then applied to estimate the financial and environmental benefits of system installation – including installation costs, on-site electricity savings and CO2 savings.
The resulting intelligence, delivered via the LOCATE SOLAR platform, provided Essex County Council with a comprehensive database of solar suitability statistics for over 750,000 buildings across the County, each attributed with both the financial and environmental benefits of solar deployment. This enabled Essex County Council to rapidly assess the solar potential across their estates, by identifying energy and CO2 savings on buildings the Authority owns and operates. Using LOCATE SOLAR has enabled them to:
- Rapidly assess the solar potential of their own estates, identifying energy and CO2 savings on buildings the Authority owns and operates
- Determine large-scale commercial rooftop solar opportunities across industrial estates which can help decarbonise high energy utilisation operations
- Roll out solar bulk buying schemes to local residents, enabling them to benefit from competitive volume based pricing
- Identify community energy solar projects, providing rural communities with energy independence and long term revenue streams
The innovative analytics delivered via LOCATE SOLAR allowed Essex County Council to make confident and informed decisions to best benefit their constituency and communities, setting them on track to successfully complete their goals and make climate decisions faster in their race to Carbon Net Zero by 2050.