UK 2019 Q3 Project: Solar Power

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Residential rooftop solar panels

The aim of this UK Quarterly Project is to map all things solar power related.

This project runs for July, August, and September 2019.

NEWS: as of 25th August, we've now mapped over 75,000 standalone solar PV items in the UK, plus over 500 solar farms! This is great work. Can we get to 100,000?


There are approx 800,000 rooftop solar PV installations in Britain, and together they provide around half of the country's solar capacity. If we can map them, at least their latitude and longitude, this information can be useful for tasks such as predicting how much solar energy we'll get on a particular day, or searching for new suitable rooftops for future installations.

"As solar cannot be controlled, it affects the balance of supply and demand in the electricity grid. Uncertainty in forecasting PV results in the need for standby generators to provide additional reserve capacity, making it more expensive to manage the grid, but with accurate forecasts the amount of reserve can be reduced, cutting costs for National Grid and so the bill payers."[1]

"Because all solar is connected to the distribution networks, historically National Grid, as the System Operator, has no visibility of live metering from solar generation. This has meant that accurately forecasting demand has proved challenging. With installed solar PV capacity increasing since 2011, it has become an important component in our demand forecast." - Summer Outlook Report 2018, National Grid

How to tag

Adding solar PV to OpenStreetMap using the ID editor.

See generator:source=solar. Note that the larger solar farms are not all consistently mapped: some are mapped as just a single "generator", not as a "plant" as described in the wiki page.

For more on tagging rooftop solar, see Renewable_energy_in_the_United_Kingdom/Rooftop_Solar_PV.

To watch how to survey(using OsmAnd) and how to map(using iD) these solar panels, Mapper Diaries has an extended-length video. that also talks about why we map them.

Suggested processes

Solar farms and smaller rooftop installations are quite different (e.g. in quantity, or in how easy they are to see in imagery). Do we want a single approach, or to approach the two separately?

Data sources

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS....that used to be DEFRA) Renewable Energy Planning Database (REPD) is a collection of planning information for larger scale (generating 1MW+) renewable energy sites in the UK. The data is provided every quarter as a csv or Excel extract or via a WMS kml feed -- and in the OSM wiki there is (taken from REPD) a table of under construction and operational UK ground mounted solar farms, in Renewable energy in the United Kingdom aka solar farms sited in fields.

Renewable Obligation register (has site addresses and MW) - needs more info or a link to data

The Feed in Tariff register (admin region for smaller installations)


Analysis of progress

See "Tools" above for e.g. the solar "completeness list". Also: some numerical analysis of the UK solar data here by User:Danstowell.

Previous projects

A lot of work has been done on onshore wind in Renewable energy in the United Kingdom and the energy grid in general for the OpenInfraMap