The problems of operation, increased reliability and efficiency of power supply networks are very important in modern society. The efficiency of wind farming is proved by comparing its economic indicators with indicators of the other power installations, or the accounting of costs reduction of fuel and costs of the released capacities of usual power plants. The application of GIS and RS simplifies and cheapens the cost of construction of wind farms, as well as makes their planning and mapping more effective and beneficial.

The renewable energy includes the resources which a person can use, without doing harm to the environment (Mukund 2006). The power, using renewable sources, is called an “alternative power engineering” (concerning traditional sources – gas, oil products, coals and large hydrogeneration) that points to the minimum environmental harm (Elliott 2002). The advantages of the use of the renewables are connected with ecology, reproducibility (inexhaustibility) of resources, and with the opportunities of obtaining energy in hard-to-reach spots of population’s accommodation (Voivontas et al. 1998). The disadvantages include low efficiency, insufficiency of capacities for the industrial consumption of energy, a need for considerable territories of the crops of “green agricultures”, existence of the increased noise and vibration levels (for a wind power), and difficulties of production of rare-earth metals (Elliott 2002). The application of renewable energy is connected with local renewable resources and a state policy (Mukund 2006). Successful examples include the geothermal stations providing energy, heating and hot water to the city of Iceland (Warren et al. 2005); the “farms” of solar batteries in California (USA) and the United Arab Emirates, and the project in the Sahara Desert for the countries of North Africa; wind power farms in Germany, the USA and Portugal (Almoataz et al. 2013). Remote Sensing (RS) and Geographic Information System (GIS) help in mapping and identifying the potential zones of renewable resources, as they provide a definite geographic and topographic information for the potential location of wind farms (Baban & Parry 2000).

RS is studying Earth by the characteristics measured at distance, without a direct contact with a surface (Mukund 2006). Different types of film-making equipment for the implementation of remote sensing are installed on space crafts, planes and other mobile carriers (Mukund 2006). GIS is the system of collecting, storage, analysis and graphic visualization of space (geographical) data, as well as the related information on necessary objects (Baban & Parry 2000).

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The GIS concept is also used as a tool (software product) allowing users to look for, analyse and edit a digital district mapping, while planning wind farms (Baban & Parry 2000). The use of RS and GIS data with a large number of spectral channels allows defining the sites for the most effective locations of wind farms (Almoataz, et al. 2013). The current essay will focus on the use of remote sensing in RS and GIS applications in wind power farms planning. In addition, it will discuss advantages, disadvantages, and limitations of using these techniques. Finally, strategies and suggestions to overcome the obstacles will be discussed below.

Wind Farm Planning by Using GIS and RS techniques

Wind power is the branch of power, specializing on the transformation of kinetic energy of air masses in the atmosphere into electric, mechanical, thermal or in any other form of energy convenient for the use in a national economy (Barthelmie & Pryor 2003). Such a transformation can be carried out by such units as a wind generator (for obtaining electric energy), a windmill (for the transformation to mechanical energy), a sail (for the use in transport) and others (Barthelmie & Pryor 2003).

Wind power belongs to the renewable or alternative types of energy, as it is a consequence of the solar activity (Committee on Environmental Impacts of Wind Energy Projects & National Research Council 2007). Its advantages are obvious: the wind blows always and everywhere, so there is no need to extract it (Committee on Environmental Impacts of Wind Energy Projects & National Research Council 2007). The general stocks of wind power in the world are estimated at 170 trillion kW • h, or 170 thousand terawatt-hours (TVT • w) a year (Committee on Environmental Impacts of Wind Energy Projects & National Research Council 2007). It exceeds the current world electricity consumption by eight times (Committee on Environmental Impacts of Wind Energy Projects & National Research Council 2007). Theoretically, all power supply in the world could be provided only at the expense of a wind power (Committee on Environmental Impacts of Wind Energy Projects & National Research Council 2007). Besides, the use of a wind power does not pollute atmosphere, hydrosphere or soil (Committee on Environmental Impacts of Wind Energy Projects & National Research Council 2007).

Coastal zones are considered to be the most perspective in the wind energy production (Elliott 2002). However, the cost of investments is 1.5-2 times higher, if compared to a land. In the sea, offshore wind power plants are built at the distance of 10-12 km from the coast (Elliott 2002). Wind power stocks are hundreds times more than the stocks of hydraulic power of all rivers on the planet (Elliott 2002). The power of high-rise streams of a wind (at the heights of 7-14 km) is about 10-15 times higher than on the ground (Warren et al. 2005). These streams possess constancy, almost not changing during a year (Warren et al. 2005). The use of the streams located even over the densely populated territories, for example, cities, is possible without potential harm to economic activity (Warren et al. 2005)

According to the research of Montgomery (2013), the world countries increase the application of wind farms for the generation of electric energy (Montgomery 2013). Thus, the European countries, as well as the USA are the leaders among the users of wind power.

GIS Applications and Wind Farm Mapping

As a result of the cancellation of the state control the scales of an exchange of the electric power between the EU countries have significantly increased (Danish Energy Authority 2008). It led to the additional loads of power network of Europe (Danish Energy Authority 2008). The addition of a wind power into the structure of a power complex of renewables is encouraged by the general development strategy (Nielsen et al. 2004). However, in this case, there are additional loadings, as the amount of the energy developed in this or that knot of a network depends on fluctuation of wind streams (Danish Energy Authority 2008).

The Geographical Information Systems (GIS) allow the serving companies to visualize networks in the dynamic mode, covering and controlling the whole infrastructure complex (Baban & Parry 2000). The use of the interconnected layers of data, such as topographical features of a relief, a road network, hydrography and right-of-ways allows to understand and analyse a situation better (Almoataz et al. 2013). Unlike the other administrative and operational IT systems, GIS provide ability to integrate data from different systems on the basis of a spatial binding and exact geographical display of the whole complex of infrastructure objects (Almoataz et al. 2013). This technology provides manufacturing companies and suppliers of electric power with an optimal and unique method for the effective use of information database at automation of working processes, for the general control of the current situation and planning of the development on prospect (Baban & Parry 2000).

GIS are used in wind farms planning across Europe and the USA (Langaas 1997). They help to analyze the routes of wind farms and electric lines, management of loads of electric networks, control of failures in power supply networks, an assessment of impact of wind farms on environment, management of assets, management of technological processes, an automated control of operation of sensors and the equipment, and various routing problems (Langaas 1997).

The possibility of using data from various sources and their evident display with binding to the district – a key aspect of success of GIS of the PRE energy company (Prazska Energetika Group) in the territory of the Czech Republic (Wahlers 2006). The GIS software allows the staff of the company to work with a spatial data in different formats, and also to work with DBMS and support interaction with the other program platforms (Wahlers 2006). In Germany, the EWR AG energy company uses GIS and complementary software products for a data control on corporate networks (Warren et al. 2005). It allows the company to operate effectively the assets, to carry out the spatial analysis of data and use this information for decision-making at the different levels of management (Nielsen et al. 2004).

According to the mandate of the EU about renewables, Nuon – one of the largest energy companies of Netherlands had built a complex of wind power plants on a continental shelf of the North Sea (Nuon Energy 2013). The choice of a suitable site is carried out by means of the GIC software (Nuon Energy 2013). GIS helped to integrate and analyse many limiting factors, such as ways and intensity of navigation, the territory of oil fields development and a way of laying oil pipelines, routes of migration of birds, restrictions from military departments, etc. (Nuon Energy 2013). This principle allows analysing the suitability and ecological sensitivity of this or that site more precisely, in the course of a choice of places for the construction of wind farms (Nuon Energy 2013).

Remote Sensing (RS) Applications and Wind Farm Mapping

Remote sensing is represented by such stages as a space record, receipt from space shuttles of RS, processing of the received images and cartography (Hasager et al. 2009). The RS methods can be passive, using the natural reflected or secondary thermal radiation of objects caused by solar radiation, and active usage of the compelled radiation of objects initiated by an artificial source of the directed action (Hasager et al. 2009). The range of the measured electromagnetic waves from micrometer shares (visible optical radiation) to meters (radio wave) (Hasager et al. 2009). The possibility of identification and classification of objects is based on the fact that the objects of different types – rocks, soils, water, vegetation, etc. differently reflect and absorb electromagnetic radiation in this or that range of the waves’ lengths (Hasager et al. 2009).

The term “remote sensing” usually includes registration (record) of electromagnetic radiations by means of various cameras, scanners, microwave receivers, radars and other devices. (Hasager et al. 2009). RS is used for data collecting and recording about a seabed, atmosphere of Earth and solar system (Hasager et al. 2009). It is carried out with the application of sea vessels, planes, space devices and land telescopes (Hasager et al. 2009). Wind farms planning also uses RS for data collection to carry out the researches (Hasager et al. 2009). The RS systems include three main components: device for the formation of image, environment for data recording and base for remote sensing (Hasager et al. 2009). However, analysis of images is the most important step in RS (Hasager et al. 2009). Thus, RS is one of the main sources of information, while planning wind farms (Hasager et al. 2009). The images, received with the application of RS technique, show the changes of wind strengths and possibility of cyclones and hurricanes. (Hasager et al. 2009). The received information is thoroughly analyzed by the specialists, researching potential areas for wind farming (Hasager et al. 2009).

Advantages and Disadvantages of GIS and RS in Wind Farms Mapping

Advantages Disadvantages
GIS 1. Decrease of prime costs at the expense of bigger effectiveness (Longley et al. 2003);

2. Improvement of the process of decision-making, while planning and zoning the territory, most suitable for wind farming (Malczewski 2004);

3. Management from the point of view of geographic approach (Longley et al. 2003).

1. Dependance on basic geographical data, their accuracy and clearness of their transfer in GIS (Malczewski 2004);

2. Complexity of the analysis of objects though this problem is solved by means of the connected modules, control of system under specific problems (Longley et al. 2003).

RS 1. Possibility to order and reception of data from any remote sensing systems (Simio, Densham & Haklay 2009);

2. Delivery of data from such satellites as DigitalGlobe (WorldView-1,2, QuickBird) is held within two hours;

3. Possibility to order RS from different angles and multispectral recording (Warren et al. 2005);

4. Access to the huge base of archives (Simio, Densham & Haklay 2009);

5. The reception of the data of the necessary level of processing and in necessary formats (Simio, Densham & Haklay 2009);

6. The possibility to monitor big areas, including extended objects, due to a high frequency of shooting, efficiency of the initial and processed data (Warren et al. 2005).

1. The speed of delivery of radar data is lower and speed at the order of big arrays of radar data or regular monitoring of big territories is higher than at reception of data on own station of reception (Simio, Densham & Haklay 2009);

2. It is economically inexpedient to order the data of a low resolution (Warren et al. 2005);

3. The improvement of standard and legal base and solution of a number of organizational tasks for the development of the RS distribution system (Warren et al. 2005).

European and American organizations invest enormous funds in planning and construction of wind farms (Warren et al. 2005). According to the scenario developed in 2008 by the International Energy Agency, more than €1.5 trillion will be invested in re-equipment of electric systems with the use of wind farms (Simio, Densham & Haklay 2009).

The investments into the systems of transfer and distribution of energy will make €500 billion by 2030 (Rosario 2013). According to the analysis of experts, €17 billion will be spent for modernization of electric networks with the application of wind farming (Rosario 2013). Thus, in order to plan and map the wind farms, it is necessary to use the informational systems, like GIS and RS (Rosario 2013). Thus, investments into the planning and construction of wind farming are the key factors of creation of the flexible, coordinated and effective electric networks on the basis of new architectural schemes and innovative technical solutions (Simio, Densham & Haklay 2009).

Strategies to Overcome the Obstacles

The gaps in the regulating base of the world countries and a low level of coordination in the field of technology and researches and the growing negative attitude to wind farming in the social environment is the main obstacle, complicating the development of future wind farming with the use of GIS and RS (Wahlers 2006). Moreover, the process of investment is distorted by the high level of disintegration (L’Abbate et al. 2008). The current regulation system stimulates investments into the development of power supply networks, especially concerning the construction of transnational networks (World Wind Energy Report 2009). The operators of networks are not really interested in the development of the wind farming market, and investment decisions of vertically integrated companies are more focused on satisfaction of suppliers’ needs (L’Abbate et al. 2008). Moreover, there can be problems with reception of long-term financing, as now the operating system of regulation of branch does not promote stimulation of investments (Wahlers 2006).

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The existing standards and norms are either not agreed, or not included in the national legislations (Rosario 2013). The researches in the EU countries have a separate character and are focused on receiving short-term profit (World Wind Energy Report 2009). There are no coordinated and simplified procedures and instruments of cooperation between various market participants, for example, producers of renewables, operators of the transferring and distributive networks and research institutes (Smith & Wiese 2002). Sometimes various operators of the transferring networks neither share nor coordinate the procedures and general tools with each other, for example, in the field of increase of reliability and an assessment of probabilistic criteria of safety, management of networks, and wind farming planning methods (Rosario 2013). In order to avoid or prevent all above-mentioned obstacles on the way of the application of GIS and RS in wind farming, it is necessary to develop a clever regulating system at the national level (Rosario 2013). Moreover, it is necessary to attract as many investors as possible into wind farming, thus revealing all advantages of the application of wind farming, planned with the help of GIS and RS (Rosario 2013).


The introduction of corporate GIS and RS by the energy companies as a platform for the integration of the available IT systems allows to effectively use geographically attached data and remote sensing methods when planning and mapping wind farms (Almoataz et al. 2013). Such an approach to management and access to geographical data saves the resources of wind farms planning, allowing increasing profitability of investments into renewable energy systems (Smith & Wiese 2002).

Geographical information technologies can play an important role in the increase of efficiency and reliability of systems (Grubb & Meyer 1993). Therefore, it is necessary to use and support their introduction on all sites of electric system in every way (Grubb & Meyer 1993). It is necessary to stimulate the improvement of the relations between the sectors of production and consumption, and synergetic with the other network infrastructures of the EU (Grubb & Meyer 1993). However, geoinformtics has its weaknesses, like a poor regulating base, low state support and not-coordinated actions of all interested parties (Grubb & Meyer 1993).