The impact of advanced GIS technology and software solutions is evident at the continental scale. Initially, the International Renewable Energy Agency IRENA estimated Africa’s renewable energy potential using geospatial mapping services. Based on the GIS analysis, the agency reported in 2014 that northern and eastern Africa have the scope for wind and solar applications. And at the same time, the equatorial regions have the potentiality for biofuel resources. As per the report it has been found that there are almost 618 million people without access to electricity in Africa, out of which a 33% of them can be provided electricity with the help of national grid extensions. The factors that led to the finding are the proximity to the current grid systems which includes the density of the population, long term production cost on a continental level, and the grid capacity.
National level planning
Coming to the national level, government authorities and GIS management firms have given the planning bodies and policymakers a practical idea to manage energy resources effectively. With the help of geospatial mapping services and technology, the GIS management firms are working to find the exact location where they can go for grid extension. They can also think about adopting the right kind of renewable energy if there is no possibility for grid extension. This clear cut analysis will help to determine and prioritize the right partnership to go ahead with the functions. All this is possible with advanced geospatial mapping services that help to make a picture-perfect analysis of solar, wind, and hydro energies while taking into account factors like the grid, region, topography, population density, and distribution. At this point of national-level planning, a specific set of information is collected with the help of the GIS software and the geospatial mapping services. It is about solar irradiance, road networks, the possibility of grid extensions, designated infrastructures such as schools and hospitals. After processing all this relevant information, a countrywide report is generated with the outlined regions for both grid extension and off-grid electrification.
The cost of electricity is estimated for various regions on the map with the help of the collected geospatial information at hand. This estimation is also done based on the regions that have a grid extension and the regions for off-grid electrification.
Simpler models for electrification are created based on assumptions about geographical locations, population, and distance to the grid. However advanced models use the help of an algorithm for analyzing different scenarios and picking the one with minimal national level costing. The analytical parameters can be set according to the demand and growth of energy, political priorities, and the estimated population density.
Management of energy assets
Most utility companies will have a hard time managing the networks of energy assets as they are widespread over large territories with different climatic conditions. It is the African nations that have the highest level of grid-unreliability (43% reliability index) out of the complete electricity provision for sub-Sahara Africa. Nigeria, Liberia, South Africa, and Kenya are just a few of the African countries where illegal connectivity and power theft is a usual crisis. With effective surveillance measures, advanced GIS apps can help to take adequate security measures for identifying and curbing the crimes related to public infrastructures and power systems.
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