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Open-source software to identify best locations for PV projects in urban areas

Roof Segmentation: (a) Select the urban area of interest, (b) LiDAR 3D model with roof segmentation, (c) Normalized roof heights model.
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Researchers from the University of Malaga in Spain have developed an open-source software platform based on a data mining process that they claim can help decision making in identifying locations for photovoltaic projects in cities.

Through the proposed methodology, which relies on geographic information and meteorological data, project developers should be able to evaluate the potential energy production by a photovoltaic system for either a long or short time.

“The system accesses the geographic information that was previously downloaded and creates a map with a grid that delimits the areas available for energy estimation. It allows the user to select the area of interest by defining a polygon on the map,” the scientists explained. “The system then loads the image covering the area delimited by the user’s coordinates through the polygon on the map. Subsequent processing steps only take into account the data filtered in this step.”

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The software integrates data on the mean inclination, orientation, size, and latitude for every connected component. It also implements an image processing model and extraction of the characteristics of the roofs, as well as photovoltaic energy calculation models.

“This tool offers excellent opportunities because it can be easily updated with new features made by the same developers or new contributors. After all, the source code is released,” the academics explained. “Those new features could include focusing on new types of elements in a city or performing a more precise estimation of the energy potential.”

The scientists presented the software in the study Data driven tools to assess the location of photovoltaic facilities in urban areas, which was recently published in Expert Systems with Applications. “URSUS-PV is offered as a free web tool available to individuals, municipalities, neighborhood communities or companies in the photovoltaic sector,” the research team said. “It is also supplied as a package that can be altered to be adapted to specific scenarios or improved with new features.”

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Source: pv magazine