RE-SAT: Renewable Energy Space Analytics Tool

Using data analytics & visualization to develop a proof of concept energy planning tool using earth observation

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

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 successfully developed a proof of concept energy planning tool using earth observation (EO) and other data sources to enable Seychelles to rely less on expensive fossil fuel electricity generation and more on its abundant resources of solar and wind renewables. Building on this success the next step is to offer RE-SAT to 6 other Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to support their renewable energy targets.

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, that 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.

The Seychelles was already committed to transitioning to a low-emission, climate-resilient future, as outlined in the Seychelles’ Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It had embarked on the development of a road-map for 100% renewable energy by 2050 but needed more accurate data and greater understanding of variability to encourage investment.

RE-SAT was developed with the support of the Seychelles Government and power companies. Bespoke training delivered by the IEA in autumn 2017 led up to a demonstration for ministers and power industry representatives and RE-SAT is now actively supporting decision-making and strategic planning for increasing reliance on renewable energy in the Seychelles. The Government of Seychelles, its communities, stakeholders and energy providers are now able to analyse the energy generation capacity and grid impact of different deployments of wind, solar and wave renewables to maximise the impact of investment, reduce financial risk and reduce exposure to volatile fossil fuel markets.

Understanding minute-by-minute variability was a key question addressed by RE-SAT, as this affects the requirement for reserve energy generation. However, as in many SIDS, long periods of historic observations were not always available from existing data sources.

It is hoped that RE-SAT will now be adapted for other SIDS in collaboration with their governments, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) consultants and various other actors (e.g. national utilities) for strategic planning and policy-making – Phase 2 of the programme.

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.

Timeline: Phase 1 December 2016 – November 2017 [complete]; 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.

“The support from our UK partners has provided us with an excellent planning tool, which will enable us achieve our ultimate goal of 100% renewable energy generation.”

Seychelles Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, Didier Dogley

RE-SAT launch
The IEA Technical Team with representatives of Seychelles' stakeholders during the RE-SAT renewable energy planning tool training workshop.