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  • Writer's pictureAndy Bohnhoff

How to Calculate for Terrain in Solar Development Site Selection

Choosing the right site for a solar development project is a complex process that involves many factors, but one of the most important is terrain. The topography of the land can have a major impact on the efficiency of the solar installation, and is something that must be taken into account when selecting a site. In this blog post, we'll discuss the importance of terrain when selecting a solar development site, and provide a few tips on how to calculate the terrain factors.


ArcGIS Online GIS mapping
Terrain: Slope Map layer from ArcGIS Online Living Atlas

Assessing Terrain Through GIS

ArcGIS Pro is a powerful tool for assessing terrain, providing an in-depth understanding of elevation, slope, aspect and other key features of the terrain. Mapping within ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS Online allows for a comprehensive view of the terrain, allowing for proper management and utilization of land. GIS is used in a range of industries from agriculture to urban development, enabling informed decisions through visualization and analysis of spatial data. GIS enables us to access data from both the physical environment as well as virtual or digital sources, providing a comprehensive picture of any given area. A valuable tool we like to utilize at Platte River Analytics is data from ESRI's Living Atlas. Living Atlas gives us access to nationwide data such as wetlands, floodplain, and importantly for this blog post, terrain and slope.


With these Living Atlas layers, it is possible to map out detailed visualizations that illustrate terrain features such as depressions and ridges, allowing users to better understand their environment and identify potential problems such as erosion or flooding.


A service that we offer quite often to our solar clients is training. GIS training is a necessary and invaluable tool for those who want to take their understanding of the environment to the next level. GIS systems allow for detailed visualizations of terrain features such as depressions and ridges, providing users with useful insights that can help them identify potential problems such as erosion or flooding. GIS is a powerful tool that can be harnessed to increase the efficiency of environmental projects.


Applying Terrain Considerations to Solar Site Selection

Applying terrain considerations to solar site selection is an important part of the overall

GIS Site Selection with GIS analysis
GIS Parcel Site Selection

process. GIS helps to quickly and accurately analyze the landscape and identify the best locations for solar projects. Within ArcGIS Pro, its possible to help your team make informed decisions about land use, site selection for solar projects, reducing environmental impacts, understanding land rights issues, and more. GIS in site selection is an invaluable tool for solar developers in understanding terrain considerations for future and current project.


Another aspect of slope that should be considered is for determining the optimal angle for tilt and orientation of a solar energy array. Layers that have a slope percentage can help identify areas with ideal angles for maximum exposure to sunlight and minimal shading from nearby structures or trees. At Platte River Analytics, we analyze elevation data and terrain slopes to determine the best angle for an array. We also utilize elevation and slope data to determine placement of equipment, right of way easements, and pads for the development.


In addition, GIS can be used to determine the feasibility of constructing roads or installing heavy equipment in hilly terrain, which further helps determine if a specific area is viable for a solar energy system installation. Besides the usefulness of GIS in determining the feasibility of constructing roads or installing heavy equipment in hilly terrain, it is also an invaluable tool for determining the viability of a solar energy system. Solar developers use ESRI tools to analyze several factors, such as surface topography, land ownership and local zoning laws, to develop the best-suited solar power system for a given location. It is quickly becoming an essential part of Solar Development.


Solar Development with GIS
Solar Development

Final Say

In conclusion, selecting the right site for a solar development project is a complex process that requires careful consideration of a variety of factors, including terrain. Taking into account the topography of the land is essential for an efficient and successful solar installation. When determining suitable sites, it’s important to pay attention to the terrain characteristics and calculate the necessary factors to ensure that the project is set up for success.




About Platte River Analytics


Platte River Analytics is a proud ESRI Business Partner and aims to promote business development with the utilization of location analytics and spatial business intelligence. Platte River Analytics assists companies with complex GIS data solutions and helps to solve important business questions with the aid of interactive mapping and dashboards.


Let us know today if we can help with a GIS project or GIS training!



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