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Energy: Progress & Highlights

Introduction Energy Resources Energy Access Energy Efficiency Data Access Users
The Group on Earth Observations (GEO), established in 2005, is coordinating efforts to build a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) with a vision of a world where decisions and actions are informed by coordinated, comprehensive and sustained Earth observations. For this purpose, GEO fosters the coordinated and sustained access to Earth observations and their use for the global environment and human wellbeing. GEO’s Members include 90 countries and the European Commission plus 67 intergovernmental, international, and regional organizations. GEO is organized around nine areas, including energy, agriculture, biodiversity, climate, disaster, ecosystems, health, water, weather and also five cross-cutting areas, such as sustainability impacts, forests, land cover, ocean and urban. Interactions among these areas help citizens, scientists and policy makers address complex environmental issues in a cost efficient and effective way.
GEO Energy and Geo-resources Team
The GEO Energy and Geo-resources Team consists of top energy experts from four continents joined forces under the umbrella of GEO to develop tools and products that cover the specific needs of decision makers at multiple levels. This team develops tools and products that
  • Facilitates user choice of the most appropriate products or tools given user’s capacities and needs;
  • Contributes to the monitoring and assessment of regional and global issues by allowing interoperability among the tools;
  • Provides a state of knowledge on existing related materials; and
  • Identifies potential gaps and fills them.
The European Commission, as a GEO Member, funded the following projects AEGOS, CLIM-RUN, ENDORSE, ENERGEIA, EnerGEO, EO-MINERS, EUPORIAS, ImpactMin, and SPECS, which are included in the GEO Work Plan. South Africa provided the funds for the BAfA project, Germany self-financed Biomass-related projects focused on Germany and the China University of Mining & Technology (CUMT) financed coal mining related projects.
  • Stéphane Chevrel (BRGM, France),
  • Melanie Davis (IC3, Spain),
  • Peng Gong (Berkeley University, USA and Tshinghua University, China),
  • Thierry Ranchin (MINES ParisTech, France),
  • Martijn Schaap (TNO, the Netherlands),
  • Marc Urvois (BRGM, France),
  • Lixin Wu (CUMT and NEU, China),
  • George Zalidis (Aristotle University, Greece)
  • Peter Zeil (Salzburg University, Austria)
  • Richard Eckman (NASA, USA; CEOS)
  • Claudia Kunzer and Marion Schroedter-Homscheidt (DLR, Germany)
  • Andreas Barth (BEAK consultants, Germany)
  • Anda Sikrweqe (DST, South Africa)
  • Thomas Lege and Markus Toloczyki (BGR, Germany)
  • Osamu Ochiai, Akustu Takao and Shizu Yabe (JAXA, Japan)
  • Jesus Polo (CIEMAT, Spain)
  • David Green (NASA, USA)
  • Andrew Stern (NOAA, USA)
Energy Resources
The GEO Energy team develops Energy Resources planning and monitoring tools and products that could be clustered in three main categories: Renewable Energy, Fossil Fuels and Minerials and Energy Mix Scenarios. Some of these products are presented in this website.
Renewable Energy Icon   Fossil Energy Icon   Energy Mix Icon
Renewable Energy
Fossil Fuels and Minerals
Energy Mix Scenarios
Renewable Energy
Renewable Energy activities of the GEO Energy Team include a wide range of renewable energy technologies from wind and solar to hydropower and bioenergy and both offshore and onshore. The products and tools developed facilitate evidence-based decision both of private and public sector.
IRENA Global Solar and Wind Atlas website capture
IRENA Global Solar and Wind Atlas
Global to National / Wind and Solar
The GEO Energy Team contributes to the development of the Global Renewable Energy Atlases for the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and more specifically the development, compilation and provision of data through web-portal and mapping tools (the catalogue service for the Web (CSW).
Forecast of Wind Speed website capture
Forecast of Wind Speed
Global to National - Private Sector / Wind
Global and country level forecast skill maps (Fig.3) to show the regions where there is potential to predict wind and solar resources over future timescales (e.g. monthly, seasonal, annual, multi-annual or decadal). The regions with high forecast skills also show where the risk of resource variability can be managed most effectively. [IC3]
Impact Assessment of Offshore energy website capture
Impact Assessment of Offshore energy
North Europe to National - Private Sector / Marine Energy
A portfolio of environmental performance maps enabling “geo-localized life cycle assessment” of offshore wind farms for different configurations provided via a Web Map Service (WMS). Currently, the application is online for the installation and operation of offshore wind farm in Northern Europe. Innovation: The user can choose the impact type (i.e. human health, climate change, ecosystem, resources), system lifetime, farm size, maintenance level, failure level and foundation type.
Local Solar Atlases website capture
Local Solar Atlases
Southern France - Private Sector / Solar
Generation of local atlases for decision-support in solar energy policy planning and private investment. Innovation: This is the first atlas available, according to our knowledge, suitable for the local level, i.e. at 1/250 000 scale. Overall, such an integrated tool will allow users and stakeholders to query, view access and exchange relevant information in the field.
IRENA Global Solar and Wind Atlas website capture
Bioenergy assessment
Pakistan - Private Sector / Bioenergy
Case study on the spatial and temporal growth of biomass and the potential of biomass to cover energy demand and related transport, and grid infrastructure needs in Pakistan. Innovation: First tool of this kind for Pakistan.
Solar Energy - Maps of Opportunities website capture
Solar Energy - Maps of Opportunities
Morocco / Solar
A Web-based GIS for concentrating solar systems for Morocco. Innovation: First easy-to-use web application based on the Google-Maps API for direct normal radiation data and land suitability.
Wind Energy Planning for Policy and Investments website capture
Wind Energy Planning for Policy and Investments
Belgium-Private Sector / Wind
Generation of annual energy output (AEO) for decision-support in on-shore wind energy policy planning and private investment using users’ requirements, and taking into consideration administrative constraints or policies (regulation). Innovation: This tool addresses the strong demand for an integrated service that would offer first-line resource assessment estimation along with implanting constraints for both wind farm project developers and administrator or public authorities that will eventually evaluate the project.
Support bioenergy sustainability standards website capture
Support bioenergy sustainability standards
Australia - Private Sector / Bioenergy
Definition and development of a service for certifying the sustainable production of bioenergy products. Innovation: This tool is the first to answer the needs for certification and law enforcement.
Fossil Fuels and Minerals
Fossil fuels activities of the GEO Energy Team are dominated by the impacts of coal mining. This is mainly due to: a) the potential environmental impacts of coal production and energy utilization, and b) the fact that coal is currently the main energy resource of most developing countries. Tools and products that support the planning and monitoring of coal mining and utilization are of great value for both national decision makers, especially in developing countries, to ensure sub-national and national sustainable development, and regional or international decision makers who need to address regional and global environment issues and energy-water-food-air security. The exploitation and impacts of other fossil fuels such as oil and nuclear could also be supported by products and tools developed under GEO. These could include early warning systems and risk management and impacts assessment and monitoring tools.
Mining/Mineral resources in Africa website capture
Mining/Mineral resources in Africa
Africa-National - Private Sector / Minerals, Geothermal
Establishing a preparatory phase for building a pan-African spatial data infrastructure (SDI) making accessible data and knowledge on georesources i.e. minerals, construction materials, groundwater and geothermal energy [AEGOS]. After developing governance maps on mineral potential/mining activities vs. land use planning (through pilots in Ghana and Senegal), the group presently works on involving AEGOS in the geographic information systems component of the African Union Action Plan for implementing the Africa Mining Vision, as a partner project of the new African Minerals Development Centre (AMDC).
Maps showing mining impacts in China
Mining Impacts in China
China / Mining Impacts
Use of Earth Observations for the spatial correlation between energy consumption (electricity consumption from statistical data, and the satellite-based night-time light data reflecting energy consumption) and air quality (aerosol and NO2) in China. Special attention is being paid to the environmental impact of the great cross-regional energy transmission project, e.g., the West-East electricity transmission project in China (most of the coal production and electricity power is located in west China, while most of the energy consumption is located in east China).Innovation: Currently, the Team is expanding its activities to national scale air quality impacts due to energy consumption and coal utilization. Coal is the largest energy source consumed in China (around 70% of total energy consumption) and will likely remain so until 2040.
Maps of mining impacts in Europe
Mining Impacts in Europe
Europe-National-Private Sector / Mining Impacts
Develop and promote the use of integrated EO for each stage of the mineral life cycle to provide the basis for informed decision-making and improved geo-resources management. Currently, three pilot projects are underway in Bohemia province, Czech Republic; Toguz-Toro region, Kyrgyz Republic; and Mpumalanga Province, South Africa. The products developed include maps of mining impact on air pollution and biodiversity and acid mine drainage on soil and water quality.
Environmental Assesssment of the World's Largest coal mining area graphs
Environmental Assesssment of the World's Largest coal mining area
Shendong - Private Sector / Coal mining Impacts
Satellite-based vegetation change monitoring is the key to long-term environmental assessment of coal mining. Innovation: First time that this high resolution approach has been used for such a large area of mining activities. This tool demonstrated the impacts of the environmental preservation policy and of vegetation recovery activities.
Tools set for environmental impact monitoring website capture
Tools set for environmental impact monitoring
Europe and Russia - Private Sector / Mining
Environmental impact monitoring of mining operations using EO techniques. Four pilot projects have been undertaken in Mostar Valley, Bosnia and Herzegovina; Rosia Montana, Romania; Kristineberg, Sweden; and Karabash, Russia. Innovation: New methods and a corresponding tool-set for environmental impact monitoring have been developed.
IRENA Global Solar and Wind Atlas website capture
Impacts of mining mitigation projects
Jiuli, China - Private Sector / Land Cover Impact of Mining
Coal mining subsidence affects local land cover, bio-diversity and water-food-air security. Innovation: Multiple EO data sets have been applied to monitor the dynamic change of land cover in Jiuli coal mining area, east of China. This product illustrates the impacts of mitigation projects.
Land Cover impact from coal mining website capture
Land Cover impact from coal mining
Poland - Private Sector / Land Cover Impact of Mining
Land cover change and land subsidence due to coal mining activities were assessed. Innovation: Correlation between the location of subsidence areas and the location of exploitation fields.
Energy Mix Scenarios
Apart from the potential, forecast and impacts of the implementation of a specific energy technology in an area, the GEO Energy Team provides decision makers with tools that allow the comparison of different technologies based on specific criteria. These tools can take into consideration national priorities, such as job creation, while respecting the related (international) sustainability standards. These tools can, therefore, be used both for planning in a specific area (e.g., biofuels, forest conservation or wood production), and for promoting a specific technology, (e.g., optimum location for the promotion of a wind energy installation).
Forecast and Monitoring of Impacts of Energy Mix changes diagram
Forecast and Monitoring of Impacts of Energy Mix changes
Global to National - Private Sector / Energy Mixes Scenarios

Currently the Team is developing a modelling platform that will enable planners and governments to forecast and monitor the environmental and health impact of changes in the energy mix for alternative energy scenarios. This platform includes:

  • Integrated assessment models for designing and evaluating mitigation strategies for fossil fuels installation. Currently, the Team has developed a fossil fuel pilot that correlates the particulate matter, ozone and mercury emissions from fossil fuels to atmospheric levels of air pollutants with the use of Chemistry transport models (CTM). [EnerGEO]
  • A modeling framework that incorporates energy potential maps into energy models and subsequently integrated impact assessment models. [EnerGEO]
Map of Impacts of Heat demand coverage
Impacts of Heat demand coverage
Sauwald, Austria / Heat Demand Coverage
Assessment of the percentage of heat demand coverage among different energy technologies in the Sauwald region.
Energy Access
The GEO Energy Team is currently working on the optimisation of the technical and economic integration of renewable energies into electricity grids and markets.
Also, the Team is working on the risk management of energy installations such as energy grid and pipelines, for instance by developing an early warning system for hot spot areas. This will be achieved through collaboration with the GEO Disaster Team active in risk management projects and the development of early warning systems. Furthermore, the Team is developing planning tools for new infrastructures including smart grid, and additional pilot projects in specific regions taking into consideration the energy resources of the region/country (e.g., Africa, Latin America).
Mapping Optimal Energy Systems Infrastructure
Energy Load Balancing schematic
Optimal Energy Systems Infrastructure
Determation of the spatial optimal energy system infrastructures based on geographically related impacts. Innovation: These systems take into consideration the electricity demand and installation capacity forecasts and indicators in order to produce optimal spatial system setup.
Load Balancing
Load balancing within electricity distribution grids enabling high penetration of photovoltaic power systems. Innovation: To the best of our knowledge, this is the first tool that detected useful areas for solar systems in the test region and will be connected to the local electricity network model and where the influence of solar power will be evaluated at a quarter-hourly time step.
Energy Efficiency
The improvement of energy efficiency is case specific and should be targeted mainly downstream at energy users. This means that for each case several factors should be taken into consideration, including the current technology used, infrastructures, awareness of innovative technologies and willingness to apply them, national resources, climate conditions, user behaviour, etc. This also means that all economic sectors are involved and energy efficiency tools should go down to the sectors or even product level to capture their entire life cycle. This fact limits the extent to which global, regional or even national tools can be applied. However, energy efficiency decision makers could make use of:
  • specific tools developed by the GEO Energy Team, such as the example presented below; and
  • tools mentioned before, such as the solar radiation potentials and forecasts, and enrich them with more specific information related to their needs and priorities.
Close collaboration between current and potential users of these tools and the GEO scientific team could facilitate the development and implementation of such customised tools.
In general, the residential, transport, industrial and agricultural sectors have the highest potential for improvement [IEA 2010, UNIDO 2011]. Therefore, these sectors are the current focus of the GEO Energy Team.
Residencial energy consumption information diagram
Satellite image of agriculture fields
Computation of the annual lighting energy savings resulting from the control of blinds and artificial lights by daylight, for building design and retrofit, energy regulation policy planning, and private investment. Innovation: This tool makes use of the recent technology advancement (i.e., computation engines that are faster and more accurate to perform light simulations every 15 min) and make these tools easily accessible and available to non-experts.
Optimization of the coupling of geothermal with solar energy resources on the agriculture sector and especially greenhouse cultivations. Innovation: There is high number of unexploited geothermal resources in North Greece. The optimization of the coupling of geothermal resources with solar energy contributes significantly energy savings on heating, cooling and power needed for the operation of greenhouses. [ENERGEIA].
* Image: ESA
Energy Data Access
Providing freely accessible data, both remotely sensed and in-situ, that feed the tools described in the previous sections is one of the aims of the GEO Energy task. This is derived from the main objectives of GEO that includes the advancement of broad open data policies and practices. While this facilitation pertains to data directly related to energy, it also includes other data that are required for informed decisions on sustainable energy planning.
GEO Data Access Portal website capture
GEO Portal
The GEO portal provides is a gateway to access Earth Observation information and services. It connects to a system of existing portals, addressing the GEO Societal Benefit Areas globally while also providing national and regional information to enhance understanding.
Almost 8,000 energy-related datasets are currently available through the GEO Energy portal and can be accessed here.
Web service - energy Catalog website capture
Web service - energy Catalog
This catalog developed by the GEO Energy team and more specifically Mines Paris Tech. is well known for hosting and providing resources to the Global Atlas for Solar and Wind Energy.
The datasets are accessible here.
Potential Users of the tools/products
The potential users of these tools and products include, but are not limited to, international and regional organisations and associations, funding agencies, national authorities and policy makers and the private sector. Each of these sectors has different needs and therefore could benefit in different ways from these tools and products. A preliminary list of these beneficiaries and benefits is presented below:
International and regional organisations
  • Assessment and monitoring of progress toward the achievement of international energy targets;
  • Monitoring the impact of the global/regional related policies;
  • Addressing complex global issues, e.g. energy-water-food(-air) nexus;
Funding agencies
  • Monitoring and assessment of the contribution of funding schemes to energy targets;
  • Monitoring and assessment of the cumulative impact of individual projects, including synergies and avoiding leakages;
  • Applying targeted support based, for instance, on performance or improvement of potential indicators and monitoring the progress of funded projects;
National decision makers
  • Making evidence-based decisions both for planning in a specific area and promotion of a specific technology;
  • Supporting decisions with user friendly maps illustrating the multiple benefits for society and the national economy;
  • Assessment of the impact of national actions on global energy targets;
  • Attracting private capital by providing a monitoring framework that will reduce the risk of investments;
Private sector
  • Improving the efficient use of resources along the entire supply chain, e.g. predicting energy generation, trading, distribution, and balancing demand with supply;
  • Creating new markets such as certified products, carbon credits, new resources, and insurance indexes;
  • Demonstrating the results and impacts of activities on their shareholders and national authorities;
  • Estimating and managing the risk of investment.