July 2, 2024

The Role of GIS in Identifying Solar, Battery and Wind Farm Opportunities

GIS technology is a powerful tool used for identifying opportunities and land acquisition of solar, wind and battery projects. This article explains the benefits of GIS technology and how it is used for various stages of projects within the renewable energy sector.


Geographic Information Systems (GIS) provide powerful tools for spatial data analysis and visualisation, which make it possible for GIS experts to leverage large data-sets to make informed, data-driven decisions across a variety of industries.

In the renewable energy sector, particularly for land acquisition and development of solar, wind and battery projects, the benefits of GIS technology are used for a various of reasons and throughout different stages of a project, including;

  • Optimising site selection based on technical and environmental constraints, grid capacity and competitor analysis.
  • Rapidly identifying land owners in highly suitable land.
  • Rule out unfeasible land or areas known to be already committed to other developers.
  • Conducting an environmental impact analysis.
  • Infrastructure planning.

This blog explores what GIS is, how it is used in the renewable energy sector and how Enhar is using it with remarkable results during the process of site selection to successfully identify opportunities to acquire land for solar, wind or battery projects, and develop those projects to ready to build status.

Understanding GIS

GIS is a computer system that analyses and displays geographically referenced data, and it is an extremely useful tool for understanding and visualising anything from a geographic perspective.

By overlaying different layers of data, GIS experts can gain insight into characteristics of land that may otherwise be unknown, as even local people don't know all the environmental and technical constraints.

The data used to create the data layers comes from a number of sources, such as; government databases, commercial data sourced from satellites, drones and aircraft, surveys, GPS systems, IoT and environmental sensors, data from spatial software providers. 

In the context of renewable energy and storage, useful layers that aid in the decision-making processes include;

  • Base maps (natural and man made features)
  • Vector Data Layers (specific locations, roads, rivers, land parcels, city boundaries etc)
  • Raster Data Layers (elevation, land cover types, climate data, 
  • Attribute Data (information linked to areas such as land use, soil type, population density)
  • Infrastructure layers (electrical grid, telecommunications, water, roads, gas pipes)

There are also a number of other thematic layers that can be used to gain further insight into things such as transportation, property and zoning, hydrological features, socioeconomic data and more.

How GIS layers are overlayed on a base layer

Applications of GIS in Solar, Wind and Battery Projects

Optimsing Site Selection

One of the key applications of GIS in renewable energy project is site selection, as the choice of site has a direct impact on the profitability and overall success of a project.

GIS experts leverage extensive amounts of geographical, environmental, wind, property ownership and electrical grid data to help identify sites that are best suitable for solar, battery and wind projects. 

The benefits are few-fold:

  • Land owners with highly suitable land are quickly identified
  • Unfeasible or already committed land is ruled out.
  • Only land that meets the criteria is considered. 

This methodical and data-driven approach is significantly more effective than traditional approaches, as sites that meet the criteria can quickly be identified. 

Enhar uses GIS technology to gain an edge when it comes to finding and acquiring land for renewable energy projects for the reasons listed above and has achieved remarkable results with it.

Case Study:

Sunlight, Wind And Resource Assessment

GIS is instrumental in early stage assessment of solar and wind resources which can be used to estimate energy yield. 

Historical weather data, solar radiation levels, wind speed, and other climates and other layers are overlaid on a map, making it easier to identify suitable sites and opportunities for solar, battery and wind projects. 

This provides a base case for the feasibility of a project at a much lower cost compared to traditional research methods.

Wind speed GIS layer (provided by the Australian Government)

Environmental Impact Analysis

Before moving forward with a renewable energy projects, it is essential to assess its environmental impact. 

GIS helps in identifying sensitive areas such as wildlife habitats, water bodies, and protected lands. Analysing land with GIS can highlight regions where the environmental impact would be minimal and help reduce environmental damage.

This enables developers to design solar farms that are environmentally sustainable and compliant with regulatory requirements.

Land Titles And Property Owners

Other useful layers include land boundaries and property titles. With certain land boundary datasets applied, it becomes much easier to identify and contact the individual or company that owns land that is well-suited for a solar, battery or wind project.

This enables GIS experts and renewable energy consultants to more effectively begin the discussions with the and owner and present a data-backed case as to why their land is well-suited for a project and begin commercial discussions.

Land use GIS layer (provided by the Australian Government)

GIS in Renewable Energy Planning and Management

Infrastructure Planning

Designing the layout of solar panels or wind farms, and other related electrical infrastructure is a complex task. GIS is used to help optimise the placement of solar panels for maximum efficiency and minimal land use. 

Additionally, GIS can integrate with CAD tools to create detailed design plans, ensuring that the infrastructure installed is cost-effective and fits within the constraints of the project.

Monitoring and Maintenance

GIS plays a vital role in the ongoing monitoring and maintenance of solar farms. Real-time GIS data can provide insights into the performance of solar panels, identify maintenance needs, and manage assets effectively. Predictive maintenance strategies can be implemented using GIS data, reducing downtime and enhancing the overall efficiency of solar farms.

Solar GIS layer (provided by SolarGIS)

Policy and Decision Making

In the renewable energy sector, policy and decision-making processes benefit significantly from GIS. GIS provides data-driven insights that support regulatory compliance, incentive programs, and strategic planning.

Policymakers can use GIS analysis to identify areas with high renewable energy potential and prioritise them for development. Examples from various regions demonstrate how GIS has influenced renewable energy policies and facilitated sustainable growth.

Future Trends and Innovations

The future of GIS in renewable energy is promising. As the data sets become larger and accuracy increases with machine learning, the results and advantage gained by using GIS will continue to improve. 

The integration of GIS with IoT and AI can lead to more sophisticated data collection and analysis, providing deeper insights into solar energy production, wind energy production and environmental impact.

Innovations in GIS technology will continue to drive the efficiency and sustainability of solar farms, addressing future challenges and unlocking new opportunities.


GIS technology is extremely powerful when used in the renewable energy sector, particularly in early stages of a project. GIS experts can leverage large amounts of spatial data to identify opportunities for solar farms, wind farms or battery projects, as well as identify landholders who may wish to rent their land to renewable energy project developments.

Its applications in site selection, resource assessment, environmental impact analysis, infrastructure planning, and real-time monitoring make it a powerful tool for the early stages of any renewable project.

As technology advances, the role of GIS in driving the future of solar energy and sustainability will only grow more significant. Embracing GIS applications in renewable energy is essential for a sustainable and energy-efficient future.

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