Solar photovoltaic farms suitability analysis: a Portuguese case-study

Mário Baptista Coelho, Pedro Cabral, Sara Rodrigues


The threat that fossil fuels are likely to pose to global warming is making society to look for renewable energy solutions. Among these, the use of solar energy has a high potential for growth in the current international energy mix. Thus, it is important to provide information to decision-makers that deal with the installation of new production facilities. This study combines Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and Multi-Criteria Evaluation (MCE) techniques to assess the land suitability for the installation of solar farms in the municipality of Ourique in the South of Portugal. Several exclusionary constraints and weighting factors were used in the modelling process with the help of expert knowledge and an extensive literature review. Results show that approximately 21% of the area is classified as “highly suitable” for installing solar farms. These results are in line with the existing and planned photovoltaic (PV) projects in the region which are mostly located in “medium” or “medium to high” suitable areas. This approach can easily be adapted to include different criteria and/or different weights to deliver information to managers helping them on the decision of locating solar farms.


Geographic Information Systems; Multi-criteria Evaluation; Solar energy; Photovoltaic potential; Site Suitability; Ourique

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