Spatial planning for sustainable utility-scale solar and wind energy in the Northern Territory

Project: HDR ProjectMasters by Research

Project Details


The Northern Territory (NT) of Australia has extensive areas of land with solar advantage and some wind power potential, with opportunities to export this energy harnessed to other regions that cannot meet their renewable energy demands locally. Currently, in the NT there is a rush of utility-scale solar developments being proposed, including the world's largest, a 20GW solar farm requiring 12,000ha of woodland to be cleared. Whilst onshore utility-scale solar and wind energy developments can consume large areas of intact habitats, independent site selection is key to minimising potential impacts to biodiversity and water quality, and to also avoid land use conflicts.
The aim of this research is to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to formulate a spatially enabled Multi-Criteria Evaluation (MCE) framework to identify land in the NT for sustainable development of onshore utility-scale solar and wind energy. MCE is commonly used for decisions with a spatial element, where multiple factors need to be considered. Weighting sustainability outcome criteria using an Analytical Hierarchy Process can strengthen the MCE framework.
This research will make recommendations on siting of utility-scale solar and wind energy projects that minimises trade-offs with biodiversity conservation and climate mitigation goals, which could be translated into government policy. With appropriate site selection, the NT can not only fulfill opportunities in the renewable energy market, but also provide important environmental services.

StatusNot started


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