20/03/2017

One in every eight buildings in Flanders is already using solar panels or a solar boiler, but many other owners of buildings that benefit from a sunny roof do not realise the opportunity they are passing up. “It gives me great pleasure to present the Solar Map of Flanders today. Finally, we can show everyone in Flanders how well their roof is ranked as a source of solar energy and how much a solar installation would cost and would yield”, said the Flemish Minister of Energy, Bart Tommelein. Research has shown that those who have not yet invested in solar energy harbour doubts about the cost that may be involved or about the suitability of their roof. “Solar energy is no longer expensive and in the main, is financially beneficial. What is more, the majority of roofs are suitable. The Solar Map now provides us with a tool that enables us to demonstrate this to everyone”, replied Bart Tommelein.

The Solar Map is available for everyone to see at www.energiesparen.be/zonnekaart. Enter an address and a map will then be displayed. The colour in which a building is displayed will enable you to see whether the roof is ideal (green), usable (yellow) or of limited or no use (orange) for the installation of solar panels or a solar boiler. For every roof marked in green or yellow, the cost price and repayment time of solar panels and a solar boiler will be calculated based on average family consumption (annual electricity consumption of 3500 kWh/year and hot water for four people), together with the annual savings in energy costs and CO2 emissions. The map even provides an initial estimate of the number of solar panels to be installed and the position on the roof that offers maximum sunlight.

Those whose consumption is lower or higher than the average have the ability to adjust the settings and obtain a tailor-made calculation. The Solar Map is not just limited to families. The application also includes profiles for large-scale consumers, so that businesses, schools, supermarkets, municipal authorities and other organisations, for example, are able to obtain an initial estimate of the opportunities that would be available if they were to install solar panels or a solar boiler on the roof of their building.

The creators of the Solar Map hope to encourage building-owners to take the result of their calculation and refine it even further by consulting a (RESCert) installer.

The originator of this initiative to produce the Solar Map was the Flemish Energy Agency (VEA), which launched a collaboration with Information Flanders and VITO (the Flemish Institute for Technological Research) in early 2016. In more specific terms and in order to create the Solar Map, the two organisations called upon the expertise available within the Flanders Image Processing Chain (BVK).

During the period from February 2013 up to and including March 2015, a number of flights were organised with laser detection equipment on board. The purpose of the flights was to carry out a detailed survey of the entire landscape of Flanders and of the buildings located there. The expertise of Information Flanders and VITO in the processing of big data, combined with the computing capacity of the Flanders Image Processing Chain, made it possible to provide very specific information about more than 2.5 million buildings in Flanders (with the exception of new buildings constructed after the survey took place). That information includes details of the surface area of the roof, its orientation, the angle of inclination and the shading effect of surrounding buildings, trees and other objects. The researchers then linked this information to measurements of solar irradiance per region provided by the Belgian Royal Meteorological Institute. This made it possible to determine the total solar irradiance of each square of territory measuring 25 cm by 25 cm. By combining all of that information, the Solar Map is able to provide an initial, objective estimate of the suitability of every roof for a solar installation, together with a calculation of the benefits that would be obtained.

During the period from February 2013 up to and including March 2015, a number of flights were organised with laser detection equipment on board. The purpose of the flights was to carry out a detailed survey of the entire landscape of Flanders and of the buildings located there. This made it possible to provide very specific information about more than 2.5 million buildings in Flanders (with the exception of new buildings constructed after the survey took place). That information includes details of the surface area of the roof, its orientation, the angle of inclination and the shading effect of surrounding buildings, trees and other objects. That information was then linked to measurements of solar irradiance per region provided by the Belgian Royal Meteorological Institute. This made it possible to determine the total solar irradiance of each square of territory measuring 25 cm by 25 cm. By combining all of that information, the Solar Map is able to provide an initial, objective estimate of the suitability of every roof for a solar installation, together with a calculation of the benefits that would be obtained.

The Solar Map does not set out to be 100% accurate. It is simply a calculation tool based on the information available that automatically makes judgements based on a number of pre-programmed options. All of the data used is subject to a margin of error.

For the first time, the data provided by the Solar Map have provided us with a detailed analysis of the potential benefit that is available thanks to solar energy. If we were to take all of the roofs in Flanders together, they would provide a surface-area that is large enough to generate 72 GWp. And if we were to install solar panels to generate that amount of power, we would be able to produce 62 billion kilowatt hours of solar electricity each year. To put that in perspective, the total electricity consumption of all families in Flanders comes to 11 billion kilowatt hours per year. At the end of 2016, the solar panels already installed were generating 2.3 GWp and as a result of the Solar Map, our aim is to achieve 3.7 GW by 2020,” explained Bart Tommelein.

Further information 

VITO contact person

Jurgen Everaerts - jurgen.everaerts@vito.be

Share this article