Aerial Mapping of Bengaluru’s Rooftop Solar Potential
CSTEP has developed a tool that would accurately assess the potential of solar photovoltaics on rooftops in Bengaluru along with the associated business case for all consumer categories. The project involved using aerial Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology to develop high resolution 3D mapsof the city including building heights and neighbouring obstacles such as trees, other buildings, poles, billboards.
The Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP) has been engaged in a first of its kind project, which started in 2016, to develop a tool that would accurately assess the potential of solar photovoltaics on rooftops in Bengaluru along with the associated business case for all consumer categories. The project involved using aerial Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology to develop high resolution 3D maps of the city including building heights and neighbouring obstacles such as trees, other buildings, poles, billboards, etc. The aerial data gathering flights started on February 19, 2018 and the last flight took off on March 6, 2018, after 15 days of flying. This exercise was carried out by Geokno India Pvt. Ltd.
The data will now be processed to account for shading aspects after digitising each rooftop. The solar rooftop potential will be calculated based on shadow-free area and the associated economics will be estimated by linking the BESCOM consumer ID linked with a specific rooftop. The tool will be made freely accessible to all consumers in 6-7 months from now. From a planning perspective, the results obtained from the tool will be used to identify the most suitable rooftops in the Bengaluru area to achieve the 1 GW of rooftop solar capacity target, by 2021-22.
Additional Chief Secretary, Energy – Shri Ravi Kumar – said that the project is an innovative way to map solar rooftop potential in densely populated cities. The results of this exercise will lay the foundation for replicating such efforts in other cities in Karnataka and the rest of the country. The time taken to finish this exercise using other means or technology would be far greater considering the levels of accuracy expected from the usage of aerial LiDAR. The raw data collected can also be processed to help in other city planning applications such as tree cover densities, surface water drainage systems, road networks, etc. The Government of Karnataka will explore these options to maximise the utility of this project.
CSTEP is grateful to MacArthur Foundation for generously funding this project. CSTEP also is thankful to the Energy Department, Government of Karnataka and BESCOM for their continued support all through this project.
Energetica India speaks with Mr. SaptakGhosh, Research Scientist, Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP) to learn more about this research.
Energetica India: Please explain our readers what Aerial Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology is and how it was used for solar mapping
SaptakGhosh: LiDAR technology creates3D maps of urban centres with individually digitised rooftops, which include shading effects of tree canopies, poles, cables and buildings. Using LiDAR is preferred over digitised GIS maps because LiDAR-basedmaps take the height of neighbouring obstacles into consideration, which allows for accurate shadow analyses. Moreover, LiDAR-based maps require less than four months for construction, as compared to the nine months required for preparing manually digitised GIS maps.
This project, wherein we will be mapping the RTPV potential of Bengaluru,used an airborne LiDAR device attached to the nose of a low flying helicopter. The technique involves using a laser to measure the distance between an aircraft and the ground. A LiDAR system takes up to 100,000 measurements every second, and generates highly detailed terrain and surface models at spatial resolutions between 25 cm and 2 m. We will use the 3D maps of the covered area as base layers for further calculations and analyses.
Using the results of the LiDAR-based exercise, the shadow-free area on each rooftop will be calculated using solar geometry principles. The tool will calculate the rooftop solar PV potential for this area and design a suitable system. Users accessing the tool can customise the system design by choosing which part of their rooftop they want to use for solar installations. The resultant system design, along with the associated business case – estimated after linking the consumption data from BESCOM’s database – will be presented to the user as an output of the tool. The user can then make an independent, informed solar rooftop investment decision.
Energetica India:How will this information be shared with the Indian solar industry?
SaptakGhosh:The methodology followed in this project is public information. We will make the report and the manual for the tool available in the public domain, once they are ready.
Energetica India:What was the role of MacArthur Foundation in this study?
SaptakGhosh:MacArthur Foundation provided CSTEP with a generous grant to undertake this innovative pilot project. CSTEP is grateful to MacArthur Foundation for the belief and confidence shown by them and enabling us to execute this first-of-a-kind project in India.
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