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Expert urges ME countries to exploit solar energy potential

Muscat, Oman: Photovoltaic panels can be suitable alternative of oil and gas in Middle East countries. It can be used to tackle increasing demand of energy resources replacing fossil energy with renewable energy in the region, according to Dr Thomas Blaschke, Professor of Geoinformatics and Deputy Director of the Centre for Geoinformatics at the University of Salzburg, Austria. He was addressing scholars at the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech).

According to Blaschke the lifespan of photovoltaic arrays is rather short; thus globally renewable energies cannot compete with conventional energies due to high prices. To forecast the energy demand and supply in a certain area or region GIS experts use geospatial data. “German energy system is based on geographic relations,” added Blaschke.

Scientists combine address data, population growth, and the amount of conventionally produced electricity, into a model to estimate for example the need for energy in a certain area. “Sustainable energy planning requires thinking “outside the box”. Here it applies thinking beyond lines and poles — where the technical component may only play a small role,” said Blaschke.

He presented examples of concepts of sustainable energy planning from Germany and Austria. In the Bonn area the scientists evaluated if the region could be energy independent from fossil fuels. “Only if transportation distances are not too long, the purchase of renewable energies should be considered,” stressed Professor Blaschke.

“The renewable energy industry promises to accommodate all types of applications of smart grids, smart metering and pay on demand solutions. Still, operational applications have very specific requirements and they significantly differ from long-term decision-making for a sustainable energy planning. The latter is well supported by Remote Sensing and Earth Observation in conjunction with GIS,” observed Professor Blaschke, who is also head of the Research Studio iSPACE that specialises in energy modelling.

About Germany, Dr Blaschke said, “In Germany about 20 per cent of the electricity consumption is targeted through sustainable energy resources. Currently Germany is one of the leading countries that has installed many photovoltaic panels.”

Source: Oman Observer