DECC and their RESTATS map. You couldn’t make it up.

Well, having been advised that the Parliamentary Library recommend Renewables Map for information on Solar Farms, See: http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-7434  I wrote to my MP Helen Whately and raised two issues.

Why was   Parliament  advised to use Renewables Map rather than the £160,000 DECC equivalent? Actually no real question as RESTATS / REPD is unusable as a ready resource.

And when providing a map was one of the requirements of the tender, also a requirement under INSPIRE,  was there still no interactive map?

The questions were passed to Amber Rudd who ignored the first question entirely and regurgitated the same pat answers about why I didn’t get a look in on the tender. Basically: We are the Government, we always follow the rules and do no wrong.

My question:

“So, here we have the Government paying Eunomia for renewable energy project data collection and delivery. Being a joined up government I would be very interested in why “Renewables Map” my free resource is now being used as a reference within the House of Commons Library: http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-7434 (para heading “Converting solar to energy”).

I am more than happy for  parliament, their library and MPs etc to use it, I see that as a fantastic pat on the back  and would happily give even greater access, not all my data is visible. I do this already for very many students who base PhDs and MScs on my data and a growing number of schools who treat it as a core resource.

But what I would really appreciate is some understanding as to why DECC chose a company that is still failing to deliver when I had a track record going back 7 years at that time and had been previously used by DECC as their resource, but for free.   “

No mention whatever in her reply.

As to the non existent map, see: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/renewable-energy-planning-data and scroll down to:

On-line Interactive Maps

Please note that this facility has been removed while we update it.

But Ms Rudd says there is a map !  At last, well done.

Oh, actually there isn’t a map. I have attached Ms Rudd’s letter, but here is the relevant text:

However, Mr Mallett may also be referring to the publication of an interactive map. This is a requirement under the European Directive 2007/2/EC, known as ‘INSPIRE’. The aim of INSPIRE is to facilitate better environmental policy across the EU and requires Member States to make available, in a consistent format, spatial datasets which come within the scope of the Directive and create network web services for accessing the datasets.

I can confirm that the REPD service has been developed to meet these aims and objectives. Users are directed to a web map service where they can download and ultimately use the REPD information to build their own maps or applications. I agree that the sign posting to this resource is not as clear as it might be, so I have asked for the web pages to be updated with this information

Well, I have tried to find this but have failed miserably. I have tried the option: GIS data is also available on data.gov.  and that doesn’t work.  For heavens sake, this is 18 months since the contract was awarded and a basic part of the system is still not available!  Ms Rudd, I trust that you didn’t write that letter to me, simply signed it, they are taking the micky and making you look stupid!

INSPIRE is a requirement, DECC have failed to deliver.

There is no map, even the DIY map doesn’t work. How easy is it to add a map? Well, in the absence of a MAP for the REPD data, that has been paid for from Govt funds but not delivered, I included an additional location map for the REPD data I show as a convenient service to Parliament, and everybody else. It took about an hour to implement.  There are no restrictions as I am simply providing a service that is otherwise  missing – clearly welcomed by Parliament.  I do add a proviso that this is not my data, and the location accuracy is a bit dodgy.

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Developments to Renewables Map

Apart from the data being the most complete and accurate of any of the equivalent resources, Renewables Map is being further developed towards being a one stop shop for all data that is generally available online.

Showing More data

Many of the over 3,000 projects listed within renewables map now have the DECC and for active projects, the OFGEM data shown. This data is of course only available where the corresponding data has been listed by these organisations.  OFGEM is invariably up to date as subsidy payments are dependent on OFGEM being informed. DECC is not so consistent in maintaining its data, don’t blame me if that data is missing.

Address data is being added along with a separate postcode and county entry.

(ongoing) Associated company data is now being applied to all projects showing developer, owner and operator.  This is intelligently linked so by clicking on the associated business you get to see their contact details, then a list of their projects, again all hyperlinked.

(coming soon) The ability to select data sets and download to a csv file. An example might be:

All solar projects in Kent with number of panels, acreage, address, developer, capacity.

or

The latitude and longitude and elevation of all Vestas V90 turbines in the UK along with the associated project.

Offshore projects

For offshore projects, there is a direct link to the 4coffshore resource and their map embedded (with 4coffshore’s permission) .  Have a look at Kentish Flats Wind Farm  you will also be able to see corresponding data from DECC and OFGEM where this exists.

The MAP

The ability to specify in greater detail what will be seen, eg just particular turbines or all projects for a particular developer or in a particular county.

Smart Data 

In the future will be the ability to login and manage private data alongside data from the Renewables Map.  That is fairly straightforward as the user management exists within the software and I use it, however it will have to pay for itself first.

But I’m not seeing all this extra data !

Your 1st visit of the day will show most of the additional data, then you will be switched back to the restricted version.

Alternatively have a look at   http://www.renewables-map.co.uk/details.asp?pageid=1940

Renewables Map gets over 10,000 unique visitors each month looking at over 30,000 project pages. 30% are regular visitors, many using the renewable energy  map as a routine resource.

My aim was to have everything on the renewable energy database and map a completely free resource and have been writing to the biggest users who are also the biggest power companies and generators.

I’ll list the biggest power companies: EDF; E.on; npower; Scottish Power;SSE . Lets add the generators: Airtricity, Ecotricity; Infinis; Energis; REG; RES; lightsource;  – oh, and every other generator I’ve missed (sorry not too list you) . Lets add the wind companies like Siemens; Vestas; Enercon; Repower and Vattenfall and not to forget the associated companies like National Grid,  Narec, STFC.  Actually, find a list of all companies in any way associated with energy and specifically renewable energy  and they are my biggest users. Don’t forget to add the BBC and Associated Press – actually all the media.  Then there is every single council and Government Department including Parliament and even the FCO!

Why list all of these companies and organisations?   Well, I had started to write to them, they use the resource and it would be so much easier to sponsor than have a paid for resource. That at least would make it accessible to the equally large number of schools, colleges and universities that use the data.

So, what sort of response? Well, RWE and Vattenfall replied – the only ones. Both were a NO, they remain major users.

Everybody else didn’t even bother replying – but I’ve only contacted a small number so far. It gets very depressing.  Ecotricity emailed to ask for a download of all the data I have collected over the last many years.  I politely suggested that I couldn’t do this for free, I didn’t even get a response, they remain major users, I’ve tried contacting again, no response.

Same for Bloomberg – have you seen the price of their terminals !

Crown Estates – they even state they offer sponsorship – No!

You can read about my attempt to simply carry on doing this but for DECC here: DECC RESTATS .  depressing isn’t it.  The people who won the contract – Eunomia rapidly became one of the biggest visitors to Renewables Map, only stopping when I wrote to Jayne Redrup of DECC complaining about what clearly looked like data mining /  plagiarism.

Anyway a last attempt at keeping all this free is going to be an approach to Heritage Lottery fund. I really want this to remain the best and be free access. Its just that as an individual providing a service to – yes the list of companies and organisations above –  that is a bit silly.

So.  renewables map will aim go from strength to strength, remaining the best , it will unfortunately move towards a paid for model.

Sorry

WInd Farm Planning Tool

Adding data to the map, in particular when it comes to individual turbines has to be relatively quick and easy.  Actually adding turbines can be  quite cathartic, especially where the locations are easy. I’m adding the 40 or so turbines proposed for Strathy South in between writing this.

Proposed Strathy South Wind Turbines

It is a very simple point and click operation with the turbine data coming from the base project information, adding them to the map includes elevation and latitude / longitude along with the ability to modify the individual turbine in detail. ie it can be one of many all the same or unique. Projects and individual turbines are cross-referenced to a standard list of wind turbines each with their characteristics, so, rather than having to add to much detail, simply stating the turbine make and model is the cross reference to start, optimum and stop speeds along with data showing capacity and output based on wind speed.

Showing Calculated Wind Farm Output

Once the turbines are added, the map can then show calculated output for the project based on wind speed, actual and forecast that is downloaded routinely from the met office, in fact there is a growing history of wind strengths and direction for the UK that can be applied to the wind projects.

Test wind speeds can also be  applied to a wind farm.

Little Cheyne Court Wind Farm with forecast output and output test based on input wind speed

While I don’t have access to real output based on wind speed, the software to develop a balancing factor based on real output taking into account turbine characteristics, elevation, wind speed and direction would be fairly straightforward.

Wind Farm Forecasting Tool

Which means that it would be equally straightforward to develop a virtual wind farm with any number and type of turbine, then apply test wind speeds giving a realistic view of what the output might be throughout the year.

The additional benefit would be the “virtual” wind farm can be seen in the context of existing wind farms close by. Any dwellings, roads and other structures can be seen, and using either or all of OS maps, Google maps and satellite views, the impact can be easily seen.

If this is a wind farm that is going to go into the “proposed” or planning stage, the farm can be easily publicised showing the real proposal rather than a variation proposed by the anti lobby gaining credence.

I haven’t got to the point of showing the wind farms and turbines as an elevation with the correct sizes, but again, that is just a matter of coding, the location and elevation data is stored.

How easy would this be and how would it work in practice?

At the time of writing, the detail has to be developed, however the hard part of the software is complete and used routinely.

Screen shot of turbine entry routine: point ;add; save; point; add; save

Screen shot of turbine entry routine: add; point ;save;  add;point; save

I would see a relatively simple routine whereby a developer using the renewables map in the manner proposed above would have their own password protected login.

They would then be able to create projects in exactly the same way as renewable energy projects that are in the public domain are created, however they would be tagged as private to that login, maybe access limited to an IP?

The created project would then exist within the database under the control of the user, it might be left as a private project, modified so it was made public and part of the map or maybe public but only through a particular URL? Maybe deleted.

How much would this sort of thing cost?

Judging by other projects I have been involved in, ask for a quote from a consultant for much the same, then take a zero off!

Please feel free to contact me about this using one of the contact forms on the map.