Copernicus helps to boost the onshore wind energy sector

The Copernicus programme, with its full, free and open access to data and Copernicus services information, can provide tangible support and benefits to the energy sector by helping optimize the selection of suitable sites for onshore wind farm installations. 

The UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development sets 17 Goals to be reached by 2030 including to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”. In line with the pursuit of this goal, onshore wind is an expanding source of energy in the European Union. Copernicus data could be a useful source of information for selecting the best spots for onshore wind farms.

The European wind farming history began on 15 April 1982, when the first European onshore wind farm, comprising of 5 turbines, kicked-off its operations on the Greek island of Kythnos. Currently, wind energy is a rapidly growing economic sector. Figures from 2017 show that wind energy covers 11.6% of the EU’s electricity demand, and it has become the second source of power generation capacity in Europe.

Energy produced in wind farms is generated by large wind turbines harnessing the wind’s power and converting it to electricity. The selection of installation sites of such wind farms is a complex process and requires a meticulous, costly and time-consuming analysis of various criteria involving, for example, terrain analysis, environmental impact studies, wind energy assessment and wind farm installation simulation. Copernicus can provide support in optimizing the selection of suitable sites for installation of onshore wind farms.

A good example is offered by Spottitt – a UK-based start-up using Copernicus Sentinel imagery to provide an innovative self-service software for onshore wind farm developers. Marcello Deplano, co-founder of Spottitt, told Copernicus Observer that “Copernicus Sentinel data is paramount for Spottitt because of its global coverage, affordability and frequent update”.

Find out more about Copernicus support for the wind power here.