RE-SAT: Renewable Energy Space Analytics Tool

Using data analytics & visualization to develop a proof of concept
energy planning tool using earth observation (RE-SAT)

The challenge: Informing the deployment of renewable energy in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) using space data.

The Institute for Environmental Analytics has been chosen to lead RE-SAT (Renewable Energy Space Analytics Tool), in partnership with the Government of Seychelles and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and funded by the UK Space Agency through its International Partnership Programme (IPP). IPP is a 5 year £150million programme which uses the UK Space sector’s research and innovation strengths to deliver a sustainable, economic or societal benefit to undeveloped nations and developing economies.

IEA role: Using our world-leading expertise in data analytics and visualization, the IEA will develop a proof of concept energy planning tool using earth observation (EO) and other data sources to enable Seychelles – and ultimately other Small Island Developing States (SIDS) – to rely less on expensive fossil fuel electricity generation and more on its abundant resources of solar and wind renewables.

Purpose: SIDS rely on diesel and oil for 95-99% of their electricity, with the resulting high electricity prices contributing directly to unsustainable debt levels. This reliance has also served to expose islands such as Seychelles to volatile international oil markets, which has discouraged economic growth and perpetuated poverty.

Yet there are excellent natural resources available to generate electricity, which could enable the islands to be entirely energy-independent, reduce their global greenhouse gas emissions and diversify their economies. However, the pace of renewable energy development in the SIDS is still slow.

There is already a momentum in Seychelles to increase the use of renewable energy. As outlined in the Seychelles’ Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Seychelles is committed to transitioning to a low-emission, climate-resilient future. It has recently embarked on the development of a road-map for 100% renewable energy by 2050.

The Government of Seychelles, with the support of UNDP and other partners, is preparing major proposals to both Green Climate Fund (GCF) the Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMA) Facility to pursue the 100% renewable agenda.

SIDS are a group of developing countries facing specific social, economic and environmental vulnerabilities, including a heavy dependence on external markets and high cost of energy. Yet SIDS have enormous potential to be energy-independent due to their natural renewable energy resources. However renewable supply fluctuates with changes in weather so reserve capacity must be invoked from traditional energy generation methods at short notice, limiting the ability of SIDS to completely switch to renewable energy.

Understanding minute-by-minute variability is a key question as this affects the requirement for reserve energy generation. However long periods of historic observations are often not available from existing data sources.

It is hoped that the RE-SAT tool would ultimately be used by SIDS governments, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) consultants and various other actors (e.g. national utilities) for strategic planning and policymaking.

Timeline: Phase 1 December 2016 – November 2017; Phase 2 – January 2018 – June 2019

Partners: Government of Seychelles, UK Space Agency, United Nations Development Programme


For further information on RE-SAT please email CEO Colin McKinnon.

Read the press release here.

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IEA RE-SAT team in Seychelles
Dr Maria Noguer, Climate Programme Manager at the IEA, and IEA Principal Consultant Alan Yates (to her right) meet with Seychelles’ Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, Mr Didier Dogley, with members of the United Nations Development Programme and Seychelles Government departments.