The Asia LEDS Partnership and the LEDS Global Partnership Energy Working Group hosted a webinar on “Assessing renewable energy potential using the Geospatial Toolkit: Applications in Vietnam’s Thanh Hoa Province”, on April 21, 2016, the second in a webinar series on “Innovative Tools for Advancing Low-Emission and Climate-Resilient Energy Planning in Asia.” Ms. Donna Heimiller and Mr. Jon Duckworth from the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory gave an overview of the desktop-based Geospatial Toolkit (GsT) and the web-based Enterprise GsT. Later, Mr. Khanh Nguyen of the USAID Low Emissions Asian Development (USAID LEAD) Program, shared the experience of Vietnam’s Thanh Hoa Province on using the GsT to assess local renewable energy potential.
The Geospatial Toolkit
The GsT is a stand-alone computer application produced for individual countries or regions to assess local renewable energy potential. Supported by country- or region-specific built-in datasets, the toolkit allows data visualization and guided quantitative geospatial analysis of high-level renewable energy development issues and quantifies energy potential such as wind, solar and biomass under different scenarios. By identifying areas with large amounts of renewable energy resource potentials, availability of infrastructure and barriers to development, countries and regions can estimate the potential renewable capacities of their areas, and make development priorities accordingly.
Designed for non-geospatial professionals, the toolkit is free, relatively easy to navigate, and is available in both desktop and web based versions. While the desktop version is an open-source application, packaged with public data to allow widespread access to the application; the web-based version, called the Enterprise GsT, allows easy access to large data that are often difficult to be downloaded by individual computers. It also offers interactive guided help tours, download and printing of customized reports, maps and legend images.
How Vietnam’s Thanh Hoa Province used the GsT
Located in northeastern Vietnam, Thanh Hoa is a province with population of about 3.5 million that has witnessed rapid growth over the past decade. Between 2010 and 2014, the province’s GDP increased by 136 percent and the percentage of poor households dropped from 25 percent to 9.9 percent. This remarkable economic development was made possible in part due to heavy dependence on natural resources, making the city more vulnerable to the threats of climate change. To enhance the sustainability of the region and to reduce pollution, Thanh Hoa decided to pursue green growth in recent years. Outlined in its Green Growth Action Plan are three major components: greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction, green lifestyle, and cleaner production.
These circumstances also mean that the development of renewable resources is now more relevant than ever for Thanh Hoa.
Why was GsT chosen?
Thanh Hoa chose to use the GsT to assess its renewable energy potential because it is: offered as free software with a built-in dataset, is fairly easy to use, combines renewable energy resource information with other data, and can evaluate renewable energy potential visually. In addition, the province had built relationships with ready partners who could support capacity building for this tool’s use.
How was it used?
Working with partners including NREL and the USAID LEAD Program, the province’s Green Growth Task Force (GGTF) participated in GsT training. The GGTF identified locally available data to be used, and a customized version of the GsT was developed for Thanh Hoa.
The tailor-made GsT was then used to assess wind and solar potential in the province, and to identify suitable sites for development according to best practice site selection criteria.
After a series of analysis and evaluation – including using marginal abatement cost curves to prioritize renewable energy and other low carbon options – Thanh Hoa established its GHG emission reduction targets. Ground mounted solar, rooftop solar, and wind power will be pursued to achieve a 14 percent GHG emission reduction by 2020, and 23 percent by 2030. Targets were formally approved by the province in January 2016, and development of detailed project concept notes is in progress to secure funding for installations.
Challenges in application of the GsT
Like many other applications that involve big data, the effectiveness of GsT is highly dependent on the availability and quality of data. In the case of Thanh Hoa, the province has benefited from the GIS data made available from other projects. Further, much effort is needed to verify the initial outputs of using GsT, such as conducting site inspections and more detailed on-site measurements to confirm resource potential. In addition, customizing the GsT to include local data requires high expertise.
Learn more about the LEDS GP Energy Working Group