SELKIE tools – GIS techno-economic tool for tidal stream and wave energy site selection

The SELKIE Project is developing models that seek to aid site selection, logistics optimisation and financial analysis of wave or tidal farms.


There are many techno-economic models available for renewable energy but only a few are suitable for wave and tidal. Most models are not open access, and are limited by a lack of information on both the technology and the site. As part of the Selkie Project’s work package 4, UCC is developing a GIS containing site relevant data for both Ireland and Wales such that strategic decisions can be made on optimum sites for specifically defined technologies. Within this GIS, will be the Techno-Economic (TE) calculator enabling the user to assess project feasibility at a given site. It will be open source and populated with open-source data sets.


Accurate and up-to-date geographic information system (GIS) and techno economic (TE) decision support tools are pertinent to helping to develop the renewable energy sector. The proposed tool aims to incorporate increased resolution and site relevance of resource data, the most up-to-date geospatial data representing all potential opportunities, constraints and, restrictions and will provide device specific techno-economic recommendations for various contemporary wave and tidal energy device designs. The result will be the development of the first true GIS-TE tool in renewable energy. It will be geared specifically to wave and tidal energy applications and bespoke to Irish and UK waters.


The Selkie GIS-TE will be populated with the most up-to-date GIS layers on the appropriate opportunities, constraints and restrictions, thus enabling the user to pinpoint optimum locations for specific types of WEC or TEC devices. The tool will also include accurate and up-to-date bathymetry layers.  In so far as conditions permit, all data and outputs on the Selkie GIS-TE platform will be available for the user to download where possible or will at least have a clear link to the data source. The tool will achieve a high level of clarity in terms of descriptive metadata for each layer, with clear concise descriptions, data sources clearly defined, and links to the associated sources.


The tool, will take power curves/matrices from a number of contemporary WEC and TEC technology types and couple these with the high-resolution resource data from the modelling procedures for the purposes of creating technical resource assessment layers based on the operational parameters of these specific wave and tidal energy design types. These will feed into the MCDA for rank location. Upon identification of highly ranked sites (resource plenty and geospatially appropriate), it is intended that the tool facilitate NPV, LCOE and any other relevant financial performance indicators, such as those which consider environmental cost savings, in order to assess the economic potential on said. This will require the CapEx, OpEx, WACC, discount rate, expected life and decommissioning cost of the tender victors. The result of this location based NPV/LCOE is a quantification of the economically viable renewable generation that is available at those specific sites of interest. Additional functionality may include the ability to view and download graphs of the techno-economic outputs from such simulations, as done for the GWA, PVGIS and Retscreen outputs.


The Selkie GIS-TE is already under development using ESRI’s JavaScript API and 1,000 lines of code have been written so far. Functionality to date includes the ability for the user to scroll through some of the various GIS layers, adjust the transparency of layers (when viewing one more than one layer), measure out theoretical sites off the coast, measure distance from shore, switch between basemaps, access a contact page, access the Selkie twitter page and access more information about the OceanEnergy buoy and the Sabella turbine. This is followed by involving the GIS MCDA (multi-criteria decision analysis) phase for site selection and the commencement of TE modelling.