Purpose. The use of ground-mounted solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants to generate electricity has increased substantially worldwide over the past decade. This growth has been driven by policy incentives such as feed-in tariff, as well as low cost and high performance of solar panels. As the use of solar PV farms grows, the need to find the best locations for them will also increase. Optimally siting PV farms is important for maximizing beneficial characteristics of projects while minimizing negative ones. Specifically, optimal siting can maximize projects’ power generation while minimizing costs, and environmental, and social impacts. Therefore, the purpose is to design a technology which will realize an integrated framework to evaluate land suitability for the optimal locations of photo-voltaic solar power plants. Methods. This study develops a method to utilize a technology for identifying optimal locations for the construction of solar photo-voltaic power plants. It will realize an integrated framework to evaluate land suitability, which is based on a combination of GIS and remote sensing techniques (satellite image classification). The research work is realized by the exclusive use of FOSS (Free and Open Source Software). Results. The reliability of the technology for support decision makers in planning renewable solar energy development is testified and proven in the “pilot” Zastavna district in Chernivtsi region (Ukraine). Data Processing stage is divided into two parts: evaluation and exclusion criteria processing. On the final Map of Land Suitability for Solar PV power plants 58 potential most optimal sites for solar photovoltaic ground-mounted farms` construction were determined with a total area of 7,44 sq.km (743,91 ha) which is 1,2 % of “pilot” district area. To highlight commercial viability of chosen sites it is proposed to estimate how much energy could be produced by establishing on one experimental area a solar PV farm. As a tool for parameters` processing and estimation of grid-connected PV solar farm performance, “PVGIS” web application (EC JRC) was used. Therefore, the Annual Performance of PV utility on experimental area was near 250 MWh with an optimal slope (tilt) of the panels - 360. Total loss in this case is 20,3 %. Scientific novelty and practical significance. A comprehensive analysis of natural factors that influence the choice of the solar farm location, as well as the use of remote sensing and multi-criteria decision analysis methods for obtaining the final map are provided. According to literature reviews, expert opinions and international experiences it is proposed to classify particular criteria into multiple ranges based on suitability. For the first time in Ukraine, in particular, in Zastavna district (Chernivtsi region), reliable data on the optimal location of photovoltaic solar power plant construction are obtained. It should be noted that it is proposed to use only data that is freely available on Internet, free open source software.
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