Geographic information consultancy Ian Dee Consulting (IDC) is to launch an automated solar mapping tool at next month’s Sustainability Live event which claims to speed up the identification of ideal sites for ground-mount solar projects in the UK.

The tool uses geographic information systems with various digital mapping data sources and allows companies to search for a site by submitting various criteria, such as proximity to the grid and distance from dwellings or transport infrastructure, to identify ideal sites automatically.

“Traditionally the identification of land suitable for installing a solar or wind farm has been undertaken in the field, through manual interpretation of maps or, more recently, by interrogating Google Earth – all of which are intensive, time-consuming processes, open to human error and subjectivity,” IDC founder Ian Dee said.

IDC’s tool has been designed to remove that subjectivity and create what Dee labelled a more “objective, cost-effective and less time-consuming” approach.

Dee said that the new method could accurately map an area 500 square kilometres in size within a few days, and estimated the tool to be capable of mapping the entire UK “within six to eight weeks”.

Once a particular area has been located, ordinary site inspections and surveying can then take place to ensure the site is ideal.

Sustainability Live runs from 21-23 April at Birmingham’s NEC.