Location Insights Power the Solar and Wind Energy Industry
Wind and solar energy developers look to Aegean Energy Group to improve alternative energy construction and operations. Its Maps to Megawatts solution supports development, on-site analysis, site control, and reporting. Data collection in the field is essential for the company to accurately deliver intelligence throughout the life cycle of its customers' energy projects. Aegean Energy extended the capability of Maps to Megawatts by enhancing it with geographic information system (GIS) tools that streamline field data collection and deepen location analytics.
Maps to Megawatts helps clients with planning, strategy, and development. Aegean Energy offers suitability analysis for developers looking for wind and solar energy opportunities and identifies any costly or challenging development obstacles, such as safety, civil, or environmental issues. Aegean Energy needed a more efficient way to gather data for analysis and promptly make results available to stakeholders.
"Field information is important to us internally," says Woody Duncan, senior vice president of Aegean Energy Group. "It also helps clients be strategic and methodical in project development, which is a time-saver and critical in this day and age. We have to have greater insight as we look for energy opportunities."
Analyzing field data
Woody Duncan, Senior Vice President of Aegean Energy Group
Aegean Energy gathers large amounts of data about a project during construction, but processing the data was slow.
The company implemented ArcGIS Insights to streamline data input, analysis, and reporting. They also use ArcGIS Collector and ArcGIS Survey123 to collect and organize data.
Insights ensures the accuracy of project-related documents. Stakeholders gain visibility into development issues and whether a project is on time and on budget.
The process for receiving information from the field for analysis was in need of retooling. Aegean Energy gathers large amounts of data about a project during construction, but processing the data was slow. From project photos that required cataloging and filing to paper forms that staff manually entered into an Excel database, the workflow caused a significant lag in distributing information from the field. The company estimated that these burdensome and slow processes took around three months to complete.
Aegean Energy also sought a more efficient way to conduct analysis and quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) when analyzing data.
The company implemented ArcGIS Insights to streamline data input, analysis, and reporting. This analytical software allows users to perform data analysis, document their workflow, and share analysis results with others. Aegean Energy uses ArcGIS Insights throughout different stages of the assessment process, including quality control, monitoring ongoing problems in the field, and data reporting.
"We use Insights for quality control, reporting, tracking schedules, and budgets," says Clint Cook, senior vice president of engineering and construction for Aegean Energy Group. "It's exciting because we can now do so much more with data."
Maps to Megawatts functionality includes construction monitoring that tracks inspection status, which is based on data on forms completed by field operations teams. These forms help Aegean Energy identify potential development issues. Once an operator submits a form, GIS processes it. ArcGIS Insights flags tasks that are open and ready for inspection. Inspectors have an easy-to-see visual representation that shows where work needs to be done. Using an app to update the task status, inspectors can instantly close the loop, and ArcGIS Insights tracks the change. This simple workflow has improved inspection efficiency.
Aegean Energy also uses the ArcGIS Insights Link Analysis tool to trace form entry errors, another aspect of QA/QC. Using a network of interconnected links, the tool identifies and analyzes relationships that are not easily seen in raw data. Suppose that a fieldworker inaccurately enters two locations on an inspection form. Since each inspection status task links to a specific solar pad number or a wind turbine location, only one form can be entered for each asset. A link chart, with a clear graphic representation, easily shows a pad number with two different statuses, which indicates data entry error.
Duncan notes, "Using this tool saves hours of work. Previously, somebody would have to spend many hours trying to dig through the reports and figure out if information had been entered twice or if there was another issue. But with Insights, we can immediately find the problem. It's like pulling a needle out of a haystack in an instant rather than months later."
Aegean Energy also uses other products in the Esri ArcGIS suite to publish analysis results and expedite reporting. After staff conduct a suitability analysis, they make the results available to web clients or accessible via an Esri ArcGIS Online web services. Companies use the results for constructability assessments in the field.
Aegean Energy has further increased data capture efficiency using Esri apps—ArcGIS Collector and ArcGIS Survey123. ArcGIS Collector is designed for accurate data collection, while ArcGIS Survey123 facilitates digital survey distribution for simplified data collection. Staff use these tools to collect and organize data, quickly connect it to the office, and share it with stakeholders.
"We're using Collector and Survey123, which allows our field folks to fill out all the information in the field and simply press a button to report results," says Duncan. "[To view] that linkage during construction and across multiple disciplines is tremendous. To have the ability to go through an enormous amount of information and simplify it into what we need to see is terrific."
ArcGIS Insights plays a valuable role in ensuring the accuracy of project-related documents. Fieldworkers and administrative staff log in to the application and easily view completed forms to ensure correctness.
ArcGIS Insights also fosters collaboration by allowing stakeholders—no matter their location—to view data and project-related developments. With web-based data and results available in one location, project managers, senior executives, site administrators, and other stakeholders can see any development issues and whether a project is on time and on budget.
Data collection in the field has also been improved with ArcGIS Insights. Staff no longer spend hours at the end of the day sorting and sending forms and photos. The ease of transmitting field data has improved efficiency and continues to help Aegean Energy digitally transform its processes.
The newly streamlined workflows and location-intelligence tools benefit staff both in and outside the office. Fieldworkers now use tablets and mobile devices to complete forms and quickly share information and results on the web. Viewing project issues in ArcGIS Survey123 and tracking task status and resolution have brought great value to customers and the company.
By enhancing the Maps to Megawatts solution with tools from Esri, Aegean Energy Group offers energy companies greater efficiency and understanding for conducting operations and developing construction for wind and solar power.
"For us, we live in maps. Everything we do is tied to where, so the spatial data we gain from Insights is incredibly valuable; otherwise, it's just data."