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Solar Energy Potential Assessment and Solar Farm Suitable Site Selection: A case in Oromia Special Zone, Ethiopia

Wubalem Woreket


In this century throughout the world an increased energy demand, global warming and other environmental problems have brought severe challenges. As a result, countries have taken different measures and alternatives to fulfill their energy demands friendly with the environment. Many of them targeted to generate their energy need from renewable energy sources. In this regard, the government of Ethiopia has set targets to improve the share of renewable energy in the energy structure and promote the construction of wind, solar and other renewable energy power plants. In doing this, understanding the location and potential of renewable energy resources is crucial for the utilization, and to scaling up clean and secure sources of electricity generation. This study employed a Geographic Information System to assess solar energy potentials and suitable site for solar farm power plant in Oromia special zone. The study focused to quantify and map the potential of solar energy and suitable locations for deployment of solar power plants. Solar radiation/insoluion was derived/ generated from DEM (20*20) using solar radiation analysis tool in ArcGIS. Accordingly, a solar energy potential which ranges from 674,504.75Wh/m2 /year (or nearly 674Kwh/m2/year) to 674,504.75Wh/m2 /year (or nearly 674Kwh/m2/year) was estimated. This result of the study indicates that the study area has a potential in terms of solar energy. On the other hand, it is crucial to identify suitable locations for solar farms in order to make maximum use of solar energy. In this context, land suitability analysis for solar power plants deployment was implemented using the multi-criteria method with analytical hierarchy process (AHP). The sites in the study area were classified into three classes according to the results of the suitability index calculation: highly suitable, moderately suitable and less/un suitable. Regarding to site suitability, majority of the study area is suitable to deploy solar farm. On the other hand, in the study area, because of some restrictive factors which are not suitable for solar farm installation such as wet land, water body, steepness of the topography and forest land, there are certain areas which are not suitable for this purpose.

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