We take you behind the scenes as RE-SAT workshops begin

Posted May 2019

By Ali Arkell, RE-SAT Project Management Team & Operations Executive of the Institute for Environmental Analytics

We are excited that the second round of RE-SAT Phase 2 workshops with our first tranche of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) partners is now underway. The workshops enable the RE-SAT team to further develop our software platform, which will be used by our SIDS partners to help achieve their renewable energy targets and move away from reliance on fossil fuels.

A bit of background on RE-SAT

Our SIDS partners each have their own national target to achieve an increased percentage of energy generated by renewable sources, such as solar and wind.  Supported by funding from the UK Space Agency International Partnership Programme (IPP), we are working with 6 SIDS over 3 years: Montserrat, Palau, Mauritius, Tonga, Vanuatu and St Lucia.  We have split them in to 2 tranches: first working with Montserrat, Palau and Mauritius and we will soon be commencing work with Tonga, Vanuatu and St Lucia.

Alison Arkell
Ali Arkell, IEA Operations Executive

Our RE-SAT platform uses satellite data, in-situ observational weather data, historical weather data and power production data, combined with our expert modelling and software wizardry, to show our SIDS users the optimum mix of energy production and the power they can expect from their renewable energy sources.

During this second round of workshops our SIDS are using customised data products in the RE-SAT platform that we have tailored to their needs and environment, to address questions based on their national plans to achieve a higher renewable energy generation.

The data guys work their magic

The RE-SAT data team have been working their magic to collect, standardise and validate a myriad data sets from satellites, solar pyranometers, wind farms, reservoir levels and rainfall measurements to name but a few.  Using all these data they have been creating and testing weather models to enable users to determine the likely power generated in the future.  Minute-by-minute data crunching to simulate the variability of the intermittent energy generated from the sun and wind helps determine what reserve energy is required to keep the electricity grid functioning at optimum capacity.

The data team have also been beavering away to create maps such as solar maps and wind maps etc. whilst incorporating existing maps into the platform.  Using maps with multiple Geographic Information System (GIS) layers such as building footprints, protected areas and the locations of renewable energy installations currently in operation, give the user a real idea of the lay of the land (figuratively and literally) when they come to use the platform.  With all this information to choose from they can determine what types of renewable energy generators could and should be installed  to define the best energy mix.

RE-SAT renewable energy online analytics platform infographic
This infographic shows how RE-SAT is tailored to the weather, landscape and needs of each country. Copyright: University of Reading 2019. All rights reserved.

The software team get busy

Our software team have been no less busy than their data counterparts, using their collective skills and knowledge to increase functionality of the platform, improve the user experience and generally speed everything up.  We are proud to announce the successful release of RE-SAT version 1.2 which includes a function in the scenario planning tool to advise users of the number of generators needed to hit their renewable energy targets.  It is all extremely clever and I will not pretend to understand a lot of what they say, but I can confirm many hundreds of tasks have been completed in the past few months!  Whilst a lot of what they do is firmly behind the scenes their work is invaluable and we thank them for it.

Project Management team (where I sit) working hard, as always

I work with the RE-SAT project management team – we have been working hard too!  Establishing exactly what questions our SIDS need to answer has proved an interesting task but one that has led us down some interesting new paths we had not foreseen.  We have been working very closely with our SIDS partners to help them use RE-SAT to assess the potential financial viability of new renewable energy investments.  Building confidence in the productivity of renewable energy installations helps improve the financial certainty for their investors, this should help them achieve their energy targets and use less fossil fuel more confidently.

Whilst all our SIDS could all be described as island paradises they are very different from one another.  Yes, they have more sun than we do in the UK (not difficult) but there is so much more to them than being just ‘tropical’.  Some are mountainous, some are flat, some have hundreds of islands, some are very windy, some are volcanic… I could go on but I won’t, I think I have made my point.  All this means that each of our partners has a unique set of requirements so balancing their needs within the confines of a 3-year project will continue to keep us on our toes.

Monthly meetings with our first tranche of SIDS (Montserrat, Palau and Mauritius) have tested not only our virtual meeting software but also our organisational skills!  We established ‘Working Groups’ with expert users from each of our SIDS to develop a tailored RE-SAT platform for each country.  We are now used to working with vast time differences but I admit that when the UK clocks changed to BST, scheduling in meetings almost blew my mind!

We are very excited to collaborate more closely with our current SIDS partners during our second more focussed workshops, and look forward to what new challenges our second tranche of SIDS partners (Tonga, Vanuatu and St Lucia) will bring us.

Find out more about RE-SAT at www.RE-SAT.com