GIS Tools


Spatial Renewable Energy Zoning Tools

The set of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Script Tools for Renewable Energy (RE) zoning enable stakeholders to customize the zoning analysis by changing parameters and input files to meet the specific needs of each stakeholder or to best represent the country context.

A) Update spatial outputs of the SEAREZ study

Script Tool A enables the user to perform step 4b (Calculation of zone attributes; see Figure 1 below) with updated inputs and parameters for any country in the Southern and Eastern Power Pool study region using the spatial outputs available on the spatial data page. The outputs of this tool can be used to update the zone ranking tool and the interactive PDF map.

B) Estimate resource potential and create project opportunity areas for any region of the world

Script Tool B, Stage 1 allows the user to create a site suitability map, which is effectively a spatially-explicit way to estimate resource potential, using any exclusion and renewable resource inputs provided by the user (stage 1 in Figure 1). These site suitability maps can be used to create project opportunity areas (stage 2 in Figure 1) and estimate their attributes using user-specified inputs (stage 3 in Figure 1) with Script Tool B, Stages 2 and 3. Users must have their own spatial datasets in order to use Script Tool B. Step 4a (Creation of Zones) has not been included in these Script Tools or zoning manual due to the the need for additional third-party software.  


Figure 1. Flowchart showing the renewable energy zoning methodology used in the original zoning study. The red boxes indicate steps in the methodology that can be re-created or updated using the RE zoning GIS tools.


Download version 1.6 (released 06/25/2019) of the RE Zoning Tools 

You must have ArcMap 10.6+ in order to use these script tools. 

Through examples and tutorials, the accompanying User Manual describes the key geoprocesses involved in performing the zoning analysis using the RE zoning study’s assumptions. Finally, the user can update two main products of the zoning study, the interactive PDF map and the Excel zone ranking tool.

View User Manual (google doc) (last updated 2/24/2017)

Download datasets for tutorials in the User Manual (119 mb)

Version history:

2016-08-13 (v1.1):
– Updated metadata for tutorial 1’s included datasets. Replaced example Kenyan power plant csv and point file datasets with example Kenyan load datasets. Updated user manual accordingly.
– Minor modifications to Option 1 scripts for all technologies to report distances calculations with more precision, reducing rounding differences compared to original zones and project files.

2016-11-01 (v1.2):
– Updated Script Tool B-2 to create project areas for any region of the world, as specified by the template raster. Previously, projects could only be created for regions within the African continent.

2017-01-26 (v1.3):
– Updated Script Tool B-2 to fix a bug having to do with the template raster. The tool should now run with any template raster provided.

2017-08-25 (v1.4):
– Updated Script Tool B-3 to change the application of the transmission distance multiplier parameter. In previous versions, this user input was linearly applied to the calculated euclidean distance and reflected in the distance calculation column. Now, the multiplier is only applied for the calculation of the transmission or substation LCOE and total LCOE. The distance columns should show unmodified euclidean distances.

2019-03-19 (v1.5):
– Updated Script Tool B-2 to improve the creation of candidate project areas (also known as project opportunity areas) to reduce the creation of very small project areas by merging with larger abutting areas. Below is an example output of Script Tool B-2 that compares v1.4 (Subfig B) with v1.5 (Subfig C), with the input feature class output of Script Tool B-1 (Subfig. A):

This example uses the same sets of parameters for B and C, as follows:

  • fishnet of 3 km x 3 km
  • maximum project area = 9 km2 
  • area below which to aggregate parcels = 1 km2
  • minimum continuous area = 0.5 km2

– Updated Script Tool B-2 (Create Project Areas) to be able to accept an optional feature class input specifying sub-regional geographic units of analysis (e.g., states if you’re conducting country level analysis, or counties or municipalities if you’re conducting state-level analysis) that will be used to create project areas that do not straddle sub-regional boundaries. Resultant project areas will also include the attribute fields found in the input sub-regional geographic unit feature class. 

2019-06-25 (v1.6):

– Updated Script Tool B-3 (Calculate project area attributes) to include annual degradation of generation output (e.g., 1% annual degradation rate) and fixed O&M cost escalation (e.g., 2% annual cost increase) in LCOE calculations.  If an annual degradation rate is applied, then the annual electricity generation output (“egen” field) will be an estimated average across the lifetime of the power plant.  


Please contact [a] to report issues and bugs.