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GIS-based Planning and Modelling for Renewable Energy: Challenges and Future Research Avenues
In the face of the broad political call for an "energy turnaround", we are currently witnessing three essential trends with regard to energy infrastructure planning, energy generation and storage: from planned production towards fluctuating production on the basis of renewable energy sources, from centralized generation towards decentralized generation and from expensive energy carriers towards cost-free energy carriers. These changes necessitate considerable modifications of the energy infrastructure. Even though most of these modifications are inherently motivated by geospatial questions and challenges, the integration of energy system models and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is still in its infancy. This paper analyzes the shortcomings of previous approaches in using GIS in renewable energy-related projects, extracts distinct challenges from these previous efforts and, finally, defines a set of core future research avenues for GIS-based energy infrastructure planning with a focus on the use of renewable energy. These future research avenues comprise the availability base data and their "geospatial awareness", the development of a generic and unified data model, the usage of volunteered geographic information (VGI) and crowdsourced data in analysis processes, the integration of 3D building models and 3D data analysis, the incorporation of network topologies into GIS, the harmonization of the heterogeneous views on aggregation issues in the fields of energy and GIS, fine-grained energy demand estimation from freely-available data sources, decentralized storage facility planning, the investigation of GIS-based public participation mechanisms, the transition from purely structural to operational planning, data privacy aspects and, finally, the development of a new dynamic power market design.