UCL Energy Institute


Students create spatial visualisations using energy, transportation and climate change data

4 March 2022

UCL Energy Institute students responded to a spatial data visualisation challenge as part of the Spatial Analysis of Energy Data module.

Cropped data vis from Christopher Lee titled Industrial Waste Heat Recovery Potential and Metropolitan Heating Demand in Ontario

Students on the Energy Systems and Data Analytics (ESDA) MSc used the challenge as an opportunity to use diverse sets of geospatial data related to energy, transportation and climate change from across the globe to create a range of map visualisations on topics from Optimisation of EV chargers, Geothermal and Hydropower potential, to Global Warming challenges and fuel poverty. The challenge asked the students to communicate complex spatial dynamics around the energy systems with a map minimising the use of text. This required the students to be empathic with the potential map users, synthesise data to key useful information and develop supportive aesthetics.

Here we present the top five maps submitted for the 21/22 cohort with commentary by the authors giving context to the rationale of each map. The whole range of maps created by the third ESDA cohort are available to view online.

Potential Investment Area for Wind and Solar Plants in Line with California’s Mandate to Sell Only Zero-Emission Vehicles in 2035

The Vulnerability of California’s Electrical Grid to Fire-Induced Power Outages
The map aims to analyse solar and wind potential, distribution of existing power plants, and electric charging stations in order to propose potential investment areas for solar and wind plants in California. California’s state government has aggressive environmental targets and mandates all new vehicles sold in California only be zero-emission vehicles by 2035. Currently, the total number of vehicles in California are approximately 14.9 million by 2019. New registrations of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles are 160 thousand which is 7.6% of all new vehicle registrations in 2019. However, rapidly phasing out gasoline-powered vehicles could dramatically increase the power demand and cause potential threats to energy security. In 2020, residents in California faced the first rolling blackouts because of electricity shortage and were asked to charge electric vehicles during off-peak hours. It is critical to find new locations with extensive renewable resources to compensate for electricity demand. 
The biggest challenge of the project is to find potential investment areas for solar and wind plants. When I pick the investment area, I have to consider not only wind and solar potential but also land cover and protected area. Due to the time constraints, I wasn’t able to analyse other spatial constraints, such as topographic inclination and distance from residential areas.
Created by Jiahao Shi

Reuse of Oil and Gas Assets for CCUS projects in the UK

Reuse of Oil and Gas Assets for CCUS projects in the UK
Despite the consensus that Carbon Capture and Utilisation Systems (CCUS) is an essential part of our net-zero future, there is a lot of controversy surrounding this new technology. In particular, incorporating CCUS is not making a very appealing business case.
With this map, I attempted to convey how well placed the UK is for CCUS deployment due to the existing oil and gas infrastructure. Particularly, the map shows decommissioned pipelines that can be employed for transporting the CO2 into the offshore and the depleted hydrocarbon fields that are already well studied and would provide enough storage to last the UK for 100s of years, as well as heavy emitters that are clustered in a few convenient locations. 
Reuse of this infrastructure could lead to significant time and cost savings in CCUS deployment, making it a more attractive solution.
The two zoomed-in sections show areas with an abundance of heavy emitters in close proximity to the decommissioned infrastructure. As a matter of fact, they show the Acorn cluster in Scotland and the East Coast Cluster in England, which are two of the three clusters prioritised for CCUS deployment by the UK government.
The biggest challenge I faced making this map was finding good and relevant data, something I think every data-related project struggles with. This is especially the case for the relatively conservative oil and gas industry.
It would be beneficial to add the ages of pipelines to assess if they require maintenance, as well as more information on the depleted fields, such as the estimated capacities.
Created by Ulvi Zamanbayov

The Energy Challenge for Earthquake-Prone Tokyo

The Energy Challenge for Earthquake-Prone Tokyo
Japan is an earthquake-prone country, and so needs its infrastructure to be earthquake resistant. The country recently declared its intention to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 and to this end is introducing more renewable energy. What needs to be borne in mind, however, is that another devastating earthquake is predicted to occur in the Greater Tokyo Area in the next 30 years. This earthquake could be as large as the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 and it is essential to be prepared for such a disaster. Therefore, this spatial analysis aims to underline the need for policymakers in Japan to consider this probable danger in terms of energy security. 
The bottom left map illustrates that many existing power plants are operating in an area with a relatively high probability of large earthquakes and tsunamis, while the graphic on the right shows areas with a high potential for renewable energy. Taken together, the maps show the current and potential energy infrastructure is at serious risk, with two key messages:
  1. Existing power plants should be evaluated for their ability to withstand strong earthquakes.
  2. The seismological analysis must be a significant factor when determining renewables.

Created by Masa Aoki

Industrial Waste Heat Recovery Potential and Metropolitan Heating Demand in Ontario

Industrial Waste Heat Recovery Potential and Metropolitan Heating Demand in Ontario
Upwards of 50% of the energy consumed in industrial processes is lost as waste heat to the environment. This map seeks to highlight potential industrial site clusters that can utilise waste heat in a district heating network to meet a portion of metropolitan area heating demand and abate Greenhouse Gases (GHG) emissions. The biggest challenge was estimating waste heat and heating demand from publicly available data—since they are not measured directly. 
Using common methods from the literature and making reasonable assumptions within the scope and time constraint of the coursework, it was possible to make estimates and validate them with the literature.
Created by Christopher Lee

South Korea Solar Power Production and REC Price Trend

South Korea Solar Power Production and REC Price Trend
In South Korea, the RPS (Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard) policy has been operating since 2012 to encourage the renewable energy industry. This policy obligates power generation companies of a certain size or more (≥500MW) to supply renewable energy more than an imposed percentage of their total power generation. Under the RPS scheme, power generation companies can purchase REC (Renewable Energy Certificate) from a renewable energy market where private renewable energy companies are allowed to sell their REC at a competitive market price. However, growing competition in this limited market is causing a decline in the REC market price and a hindrance to renewable energy market entry.
An objective of the map is to show spatial solar energy potential and actual solar energy production of South Korea from 2017 to 2019 and the REC market price trend. By showing them together, it is expected that policymakers will understand growing competition in the REC market and consider adjusting the imposing renewable energy percentage of the RPS to promote the renewable energy industry. 
Created by Ho Sig Lee