Suitability analysis of wind farm siting using GIS-based multi-criteria evaluation (MCE) model: A comparison across three counties in Nova Scotia - Annapolis, Kings and West Hants
With energy demands on the rise and the use of renewable energy sources becoming a dominant factor, the implementation of wind energy is a recognizable approach worldwide. The purpose of the project is to develop a GIS-based multi-criteria evaluation (MCE) model to determine the most suitable locations for wind farm siting that encompass regulatory land requirements. The model incorporates four layers: theoretical, accessible, economic, and acceptable, each having unique sets of constraints and criteria as inputs. The integration of these four layers allows this study to arrive at the final high value map, which portrays the suitable sites for wind farm development within the study sites. The study sites are situated on the western coast of Nova Scotia and include Annapolis County, Kings County and West Hants County. The determination of the constraints and criteria were established from a review of relevant literature and these factors were then incorporated into the multiple MCE layer models. No perfect development areas were found in any of the three counties analyzed, but areas of average suitability were spatially scattered throughout. The suitability models used a scale rainging from 0-10, where areas that were assigned a suitability score of 0 had no potential for development and areas allocated with a suitability score of 10 were the most appropriate areas for development. The county representing the total largest available area that could be considered for wind farm siting was West Hants, with Annapolis and Kings Counties following second and third, respectively. It was determined that these results reflected the lack of restrictive legislation instituted in West Hants County regarding wind turbine implementation. Policy makers and stakeholders that are involved in the process of siting wind farms could use the total suitable land area outputs as a guide to determine if there are areas within our three study sites in Nova Scotia feasible for wind turbine implementation.