Solar farm site assessment over Southern France
Site suitability assessment insights using the NEXTMap One™ elevation model and ancillary geospatial data

Solar parks in the southern French Alps are causing deforestation as natural areas are cleared for the installation of solar panels. The practice has raised concerns among local citizens and environmental groups. The Hautes-Alpes and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence regions have seen a surge in solar farm projects due to favorable conditions of abundant sunshine and cool temperatures. However, these projects encroach on forest land, which has prompted calls for priority to be given to built-up land for solar installations rather than agricultural or forest land.

Elevation products play a crucial role in assisting solar farm site selection. ding accurate and detailed information about the topography of an area, elevation data helps in identifying suitable locations for solar farm development. These products enable the assessment of terrain characteristics, such as slopes and aspect, which directly impact solar energy potential.

Together with Intermap, Cloudeo conducted a solar farm site assessment within a region of Hautes-Alpes and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence in Southern France. The two companies exploited the very high-resolution elevation data of NEXTMap One™ (1m pixel size) to detect the best locations over this area for a solar farm installation - not only in terms of topography suitability but also of land cover type. Areas identified as croplands and forests have been excluded from the analysis.

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Why elevation? 

Elevation data can assist in the site suitability assessment for a solar farm installation. With elevation data, solar developers can analyze shading patterns, optimize panel placement, and maximize energy production. Additionally, elevation products aid in evaluating potential risks, such as flooding or unstable ground conditions, ensuring site suitability and reducing project setbacks. By leveraging elevation data, solar farm site selection becomes a more informed and efficient process, leading to the identification of optimal locations with high solar resource potential and minimized environmental impact.


For the solar farm site assessment, NEXTMap One elevation data was used. It provides up to 1-meter resolution elevation data for any location in the world.

Furthermore, it comes as both Digital Surface Model (DSM) and Digital Terrain Model (DTM). NEXTMap One DSM provides detailed surface elevations derived from terrain, vegetation, and man-made features like buildings and infrastructure. On the other hand, NEXTMap One™ DTM focuses solely on the bare earth, with all other surface features removed.

Site suitability assessment

Download the Brief Report for the solar farm site assessment over a selected region of Southern France, and discover how you can take advantage of very high-resolution elevation data, like NEXTMap One.

Gain valuable insights into the most suitable locations for solar farm installations, with respect to the topography of the area avoiding agricultural and forest regions, and start making well-informed decisions by highlighting those sites that optimize solar energy potential, ensure environmental compatibility, and offer attractive economic benefits:

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*Please note that the extracted areas have been generated using NEXTMap One and the Copernicus CORINE Land Cover dataset. It is important to note that the exact slope requirements may vary depending on specific regional and environmental conditions.  Special thanks go to Intermap for the provision of the NEXTMap One elevation data of the site assessment analysis. To receive more information, please contact our sales team.
Solar farm site assessment over Southern France
cloudeo Hellas PC, Anastasia Sarelli 25 May, 2023
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May 2023
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