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Journal of Cleaner Production 127 (2016) 387e398

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Journal of Cleaner Production


journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/jclepro

Comparative TOPSIS-ELECTRE TRI methods for optimal sites for


photovoltaic solar farms. Case study in Spain
nchez-Lozano a, M.S. Garca-Cascales b, M.T. Lamata c, *
J.M. Sa
Centro Universitario de la Defensa, Academia General del Aire, Universidad Polit
ecnica de Cartagena, San Javier, Murcia, Spain
nica, Tecnologa de Computadoras y Proyectos, Universidad Polit
Depto de Electro
ecnica de Cartagena (UPCT), Murcia, Spain
c
n e Inteligencia Articial, Universidad de Granada, 18071, Granada, Spain
Depto de Ciencias de la Computacio
a

a r t i c l e i n f o

a b s t r a c t

Article history:
Received 19 November 2014
Received in revised form
5 March 2016
Accepted 3 April 2016
Available online 14 April 2016

This paper is to select the best locations to build solar photovoltaic farms (large grid-connected
photovoltaic systems which have more than 100 kWp of installed capacity), with the coast of Murcia
in the southeast of Spain being used as an example. In order to solve the problem, the suitable locations
to implant such facilities will be identied by a Geographical Information System (GIS). To obtain the
weights of the criteria which inuence the proposed problem, the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) will
be employed. Then, the suitable locations will be evaluated and classied using two different multicriteria decision methods, the Technique for Order Preference by Similarity to Ideal Solution (TOPSIS)
and ELimination and Choice Expressing Reality (ELECTRE), in this case the version TRI. We are thus also
able to establish a comparison between the two methods. This comparison demonstrates how although
the results do not completely coincide, some similarity can be seen between the two methods.
2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords:
Solar photovoltaic farms
GIS
Criteria
AHP
TOPSIS
ELECTRE TRI

1. Introduction
Nowadays, the commitment to carrying out sustainable development to satisfy the present needs of the population without
compromising those of future generations is a difcult challenge to
achieve. From an energy point of view, forecasts indicate that world
energy consumption will grow by 56% between 2010 and 2040,
although a gradual increase in prices of both oil and natural gas is
expected (U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2013). The
required containment of growth in emissions of greenhouse gases
(Arrhenius, 1896), established by the World Meteorological Organization and United Nations (Working Group I-II-III, 1990; United
Nations, 1992/1997/2013) in compliance with the objectives set
out in the various energy policies of the European Union (European
Commission, 1996, 1997; European Parliament, 2009b), were the
main reasons that sustainable development strategies were promoted (Jegatheesan et al., 2009; Engelbrecht et al., 2013; Dov et al.,
2009) and the implementation of renewable energy (RE) installations was endorsed (Espey, 2001; Menz and Vachon, 2006;
Foxon et al., 2005). The current economic and nancial crisis

* Corresponding author. Tel.: 34 958240593; fax: 34 958243317.


E-mail address: mtl@decsai.ugr.es (M.T. Lamata).
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.04.005
0959-6526/ 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

affecting a large number of countries has led to the reduction in the


support for renewable energy installations, causing signicant
negative aspects (Avril et al., 2012). However, economies of scale
and the development of these technologies have helped reduce
production costs so that, although governments have failed to
support and stimulate this type of facility, private investors have
taken the reins with implementation in order to continue with
renewable energy installations (Wnteshagen and Menichetti,
2012).
In Spain, in order to meet the objectives set by the European
Union and to promote the implementation of renewable energy
facilities, the government energy plans were developed to cover
two periods of action between the years 2005e2010 (IDAE, 2005)
and 2011e2020 (IDAE, 2010). In the latter period renewable energy
was earmarked to represent at least 20% of nal energy consumption by 2020. Among the various renewable sources which
grew most as a result of energy policies elaborated in the rst
period (Royal Decree 436/2004; Royal Decree 661/2007) solar
photovoltaic (PV) stood out above the rest (Brer and
Wstenhagen, 2009); its growth was such that in 2009 Spain was
ranked as the second country in the world in terms of photovoltaic
power regarding overall cumulative installed capacity, with 3.5 GW
(European Commission, 2010). Although subsequent energy

388

nchez-Lozano et al. / Journal of Cleaner Production 127 (2016) 387e398


J.M. Sa

policies have not encouraged its expansion (Royal Decree-Law 14/


2010; Royal Decree-Law 1/2012), the decrease in production costs
of photovoltaic technology as well as the excellent climatic conditions of the country have allowed investors to continue supporting
the implementation of solar photovoltaic farms in Spain (EPIA,
2013).
The Spanish PV potential is huge because Spain receives on
average, in the horizontal plane, a global radiation of 1600 kWh/m2
per year, with the Mediterranean coast being the area with the
highest PV potential, hence the interest in studying this particular
area to implement such technology (Fig. 1). It is thus appropriate to
continue promoting and encouraging the implementation of solar
photovoltaic energy in order to comply with the international
legislative framework, as well as to exceed the 7 GW cumulative PV
power marked as a specic target for 2020 (IDAE, 2010).
Among the several advantages of solar technology, it should be
recalled that the sun is an inexhaustible source of energy. It is
therefore a technology that could provide signicant support to
current energy technologies allowing to reduce consumption of
fossil fuels. In addition, an adequate and responsible implementation of this technology not only allows new jobs to be created but
also promotes the economic and industrial development of the
zones where they are located. However, this technology is not
without drawbacks. The indiscriminate implementation of large
grid-connected photovoltaic systems (more than 100 kWp of
installed capacity), also called Solar farms, can lead to environmental problems such as the movement of migratory birds,
deforestation, creation of physical barriers which damage the
earth's wildlife, etc. It is therefore necessary to choose very carefully which areas are suitable for implementing this technology,
because it must not only seek the maximum energy efciency
(areas with high solar radiation potential) but it must also be situated in places where they may cause less damage to the environment, to ensure balanced and sustainable development.

The Region of Murcia, located in the southeast of Spain, has


become one such area where many solar photovoltaic farms have
been introduced. One of the main reasons that PV promoters prefer
this region is because it has one of the highest levels of solar radiation potential in the country. According to the Solar Radiation
and Atmospheric Temperature Atlas of the Autonomous Community of the Region of Murcia (Vera et al., 2007), the majority of its
territory has more than 5.0 kWh/m2$day. However, it should be
noted that it is not easy to implement such facilities anywhere in
the Region of Murcia, and in areas far from the coast the level of
urban and residential occupancy is low compared with the level
 mez-Lo
 pez et al., 2010) which
reached in areas near the sea (Go
further increases the difculty facing any promoter of renewable
energy installations to nd suitable areas which are nearshore. In
addition to technical factors such as solar radiation or land use, it is
also necessary to take into account economic factors (grid proximity, land slope, etc.) or environmental factors (sensitive areas,
nature reserves, etc.) which affect the optimum location for PV
farms (Charabi and Gastli, 2011). Among the environmental factors
worth mentioning is the impact of PV farms on birds, which is why
in this paper restrictions will be taken into account, such as the
areas of special protection for birds which are protected through
the Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of
natural habitats and of wild fauna and ora (European Parliament,
2009a). One of the main points of that Directive is the designation
of special conservation areas in order to create a coherent European
ecological network. In this way the restoration or maintenance of
natural habitats and species of Community interest at a favourable
conservation status can be ensured. Therefore, performing an indepth analysis of the coast of Murcia, allowing to locate areas
that are not subject to any restrictions and are thus feasible to
implement photovoltaic solar farms is extremely important, and it
is precisely for this reason that the management of visualization
tools and cartographic editing such as Geographic Information

Fig. 1. Global irradiation and solar electricity potential of Spain (European Commission, 2012; Huld et al., 2012; Sri et al., 2007).

nchez-Lozano et al. / Journal of Cleaner Production 127 (2016) 387e398


J.M. Sa

Systems (GIS) is useful. GIS offer the possibility of nding viable


locations to implement this type of facility, and are able to show the
earth's surface through thematic layers which provide maps (visual
analysis), and alphanumeric information in a database form
(qualitative and/or quantitative values) of these locations such as
their designation, area, slope, distance to cities, etc. This alphanumeric information can be extracted in a spreadsheet format.
Therefore, it can be useful to make any subsequent analysis of decision-making.
Among the numerous applications of GIS analysis special
mention should be made to territorial planning of any kind
(Kaijuka, 2007), managing available resources (Wallsten et al.,
2013), environmental analysis (Youse-Sahzabi et al., 2011) and
studies to implement renewable energy facilities. The use of GIS to
solve the localization of renewable energy facilities began to
develop in the late twentieth century (Voivontas et al., 1998;
Sorensen and Meibom, 1999) and it has become more widespread
since then (Yue and Wang, 2006; Byrne et al., 2007; Domnguez
Bravo et al., 2007).
The literature contains numerous decision-making methods
and particularly multi-criteria ones that can be applied to problems
in general and more specically to those that consider renewable
energy (Kahraman et al., 2009; Kaya and Kahraman, 2010;
Cavallaro, 2010; Garca-Cascales et al., 2012; Khalili-Damghani
and Sadi-Nezhad, 2013).
However, one of the main advantages offered by the GIS are
their excellent ability to perform analysis of optimal locations for
renewable energy facilities (Van Haaren and Fthenakis, 2011; Janke,
2010) since through their multiple edition tools (buffer, difference,
lter, logical operators, etc.) complex location problems can be
solved.
The literature provides a large number of examples where GIS
are combined with multi-criteria decision-making methods
(MCDM), multi-objective optimization, or probabilistic approaches.
In this way (Zhang et al., 2010) evaluated the productivity and
sustainability of biofuel crop production systems through GIS and
an evolutionary multi-objective optimization algorithm. In order to
optimize the design and strategic operation of district energy systems, GIS were not only combined with these types of optimization
model (Fazlollahi et al., 2013), but also with k-means clustering
techniques (Fazlollahi et al., 2014). Recently, and from an energy
point of view, the renewable energy potential has been assessed in
Romania using k-means clustering algorithm and GIS (Grigoras and
Scarlatache, 2015).
On occasions, the decision maker does not have enough references or models to follow and the criteria which involve the decision problem are multiple. In such cases, combining GIS with
MCDM allows for very precise and exhaustive analysis, since the
alphanumeric information, which is provided by the GIS software,
can be extracted in a spreadsheet format which can then be used in
order to apply multi-criteria decision methods (Al-Yahyai et al.,
2012; Zubaryeva et al., 2012; Uyan, 2013).
Although recently studies have been carried out to evaluate the
best locations of solar facilities in the southeast of Spain combining,
nchezon the one hand GIS with TOPSIS and AHP methods (Sa
Lozano et al, 2013), and through the ELECTRE TRI method on the
nchez-Lozano et al., 2014), there are important differences
other (Sa
that make its application in the present study especially novel. The
main differences between this paper and the cited references are
not only in the methodologies applied but also in the goal. S
anchez
Lozano et al. (2014) applied the pessimistic ELECTRE TRI procedure;
however in the proposed paper the optimistic ELECTRE TRI procedure will be applied. The goal to reach is not the same; this study
seeks to carry out a comparison between two multi-criteria decision methods. There are also differences in the way of applying the

389

nchez Lozano et al., 2014) an iterative process


methodologies. In (Sa
of the IRIS software was carried out in which an expert classies a
small number of alternatives according to his/her opinion. Another
difference is the software used, in this paper a calculation process
through Excel spreadsheets has been carried out to apply the
TOPSIS method, the ELECTRE TRI methods, and in order to obtain
the weight of the criteria. In this way it is possible to analyze a large
number of alternatives.
Through this short review of the applications of GIS and MCDM
to renewable energy, it becomes clear that they are very useful tools
for solving problems of location and their subsequent evaluation.
Thus, in this paper a GIS and a comparison of MCDM will be used in
order to nd the most feasible locations for a solar photovoltaic
farm (Fig. 2). Section 2 details the models and techniques that were
employed in the work to obtain the desired results. In Section 3, the
surfaces obtained were evaluated by the two methods of multicriteria decision making (TOPSIS and ELECTRE TRI); the weights
of the criteria were previously calculated using the analytic hierarchy process (AHP). Finally, Section 4 will reect both the conclusions and possible limitations of the study.
2. Methodology
As has been noted, the rst goal is to obtain the suitable locations and this will be done using a geographical information system. Subsequently a multi-criteria decision model should evaluate
these alternatives. In our case and due to the importance of the
project we will compare two differently designed methods: TOPSIS
and ELECTRE TRI. All the above is reected in Fig. 2.
2.1. GIS
The rst part of the problem will be solved using a GIS in which
thematic layers that represent and dene the study area and those
areas where it is impossible to implement solar photovoltaic farms
will be introduced (restrictions). Such restrictions may be due to
either the current state of the ground preventing it or due to the
legislative framework in force prohibiting it. Once this surface has
been obtained, GIS thematic layers such as the criteria that inuence the selection of the best locations are inserted so as to complete the database. This will then serve as the starting point for the
subsequent decision analysis, which allows the best locations to be
determined. The selected GIS is called gvSIG (www.gvSIG.org)
which has been driven by the Regional Ministry of Infrastructure
and Transport of Valencia (Spain).
2.1.1. Obtaining feasible locations. Restrictions layers
Once the study area is known (Coast of the Region of Murcia),
the next step is to identify constraints (Table 1), i.e., those areas
where, due to the laws in force on the one hand (European standards, national, regional and local laws) and the current status of
the territory on the other hand (roads, railways, towns, etc ),
make it impossible to implement solar photovoltaic farms (see
Table 1).
Once the thematic layers of restrictions have been inserted in
GIS they will be deducted from the initial surface area occupied by
the restrictions imposed by the legislative framework with the
editing commands of the software. Finally, to obtain viable locations, it will require only a lter to be performed that removes those
parcels of less than 1000 m2 or those which have some buildings
inside. Once the editing process has been conducted with GIS, it
will have created a thematic layer which will display the locations
to implement any feasible solar photovoltaic farms (Fig. 3) and
which will also provide alphanumeric information as an attribute
table with the cartographic and cadastral information for such

nchez-Lozano et al. / Journal of Cleaner Production 127 (2016) 387e398


J.M. Sa

390

Fig. 2. Process scheme.

Table 1
Legal restrictions.
N.

Denomination of the restrictions

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8

Urban, protected and undeveloped lands


Areas of high landscape value, water infrastructure, military zones and cattle trails
Watercourses and streams
Archaeological, paleontological and cultural heritage sites
Roads and railroad network
Community interest sites (LICs)
Areas of special protection for birds (ZEPAs)
Mediterranean coast and mountains

Table 2
Random index for different matrix orders.

RI

1e2

10

0.00

0.5247

0.8816

1.1086

1.2479

1.3417

1.4057

1.4499

1.4854

locations. This cadastral information is the way of identifying the


rural properties in Spain, each of these properties is designed as
plots.
2.1.2. Criteria layer
To nalize the database, it will be necessary to dene the criteria
that inuence the decision; that is to say, those that will opt for one
location rather than another. These criteria are dened not only
through the study of the literature (Janke, 2010; Gastli and Charabi,
nchez-Lozano et al., 2014), but they
2010; Jo and Otanicar, 2011; Sa
have also been agreed upon with experts in solar photovoltaic
farms.
In order to do this, the participation of three experts was
received, specically with a doctor of physics, who is an expert on
photovoltaic technologies with more than 10 years of experience; a
doctor of engineering also specialising in photovoltaic systems and
technologies and a promoter of renewable energy facilities with
over 8 years of experience in the sector. The experts dened the
main criteria which must be taken into account to nd optimal
locations of solar farms in this study area. These criteria are briey
described.
 g1: Agrological capacity (Classes): Suitability of land for agricultural development, if a zone has excellent agrological capacity, it will not be ideal to host the facility, and vice versa.
 g2: Slope (%): Land slope, the higher percentage of having a
surface inclination, the worse aptitude to hold a solar plant.

 g3: Area (m2): surface contained within a perimeter of land that


can accommodate an RE plant.
 g4: Field Orientation (Classes): Position or direction of the
ground to a cardinal point.
 g5: Distance to main roads (m): Space or interval between the
nearest road and the different possible sites.
 g6: Distance to power lines (m): Space or interval between the
nearest power line and the different possible sites.
 g7: Distance to cities (m): Space or interval between cities (cities
or towns) and the different possible sites.
 g8: Distance to electricity transformer substations (m): Space or
interval between transformer substations of electric power and
the different possible sites.
 g9: Potential solar radiation (kJ m2/day): This corresponds to the
amount of solar energy a ground surface receives over a period
of time (day).
 g10: Average temperature ( C): Average temperatures measured
on the ground in the course of one year.
2.2. Multi-criteria decision making
Once the database has been extracted in Excel spreadsheet
format, it is necessary to analyze and evaluate it. This problem can
be considered as a multi-criteria decision making problem MCDM
(Chen and Hwang, 1992; Hwang and Yoon, 1981; Keeney and Raiffa,
1976; Luce and Raiffa, 1957), where it is sought to choose the best
alternative Ai, i 1,2, , n with n  2 when considering the criteria

nchez-Lozano et al. / Journal of Cleaner Production 127 (2016) 387e398


J.M. Sa

391

Fig. 3. Suitable locations.

gj, j 1,2, , m with m  2 and experts Ek, k 1,2, , r with r  2; it


is considered that n, r and m are nite.
To solve the problem proposed a comparison between TOPSIS
(Hwang and Yoon, 1981) and ELECTRE TRI (Roy and Bouyssou, 1991;
Yu, 1992a, 1992b) methodologies is performed. Prior to doing so it is
necessary to determine the weight of criteria and for this the AHP
methodology is applied (Saaty, 1980). These methods have been
chosen because their focuses differ. Whereas TOPSIS works as a
continuous model, other methods such as ELECTRE TRI work in a
discreet manner. In order to demonstrate this, a comparative between both methods will be developed in this paper. The weights of
the criteria are unknown since there are no similar studies. For this
purpose and due to its simplicity, the AHP method will be applied.
Furthermore, the TOPSIS method is used because its logic is rational
and understandable, the process is simple and organized in an algorithm. It is able to seek the best alternatives through simple
mathematical operations in which the process of calculation takes
into account the values of the weights of each criterion and if the
criterion is a cost or a prot.
Although there are other methods based on overcoming relationships (or overrating), the ELECTRE TRI method is a helpful
method for multi-criteria decisions, specially designed to address
classication or segmentation problems. Acceptance of any alternative is based on comparing it with alternative reference through
overcoming relations. This is one of the main reasons why it was
decided to make the comparison between TOPSIS and ELECTRE TRI
methods, since the former compensates the lack or excesses in the
criteria in a continuous manner, whereas the latter works in a

discreet manner. Therefore, carrying out a comparative between


both methods could be of great interest.
2.2.1. Analytic Hierarchy Process
This is a pairwise comparisons method, development by Saaty
1980. The criteria will be denoted by g1, g2, , gn, their actual
weights by w1, w2, , wn and the matrix of the ratios W [wi/
wj]. The matrix of pairwise comparisons A [aij] represents the
expert's preference between individual pairs of alternatives. The
elements aij are considered to be estimates of the ratios wi/wj.
The values aij V [1/9,..,1, ,9], are positive and satisfy the reciprocity
property: aij 1/aji (i, j 1, 2, , n).
The vector of weights is the eigenvector corresponding to the
maximum eigenvalue lmax of the matrix A. The traditional
eigenvector method of estimating weights in AHP yields a way of
measuring the consistency of the referee's preferences arranged in
the comparison matrix. The consistency index (CI) is given by
CI (lmax  n)/(n  1).
If the referee shows some minor inconsistency, then lmax > n
and Saaty proposes the following measure of the consistency index:
CR CI/RI where RI is the average value of CI obtained in Alonso and
Lamata (2006) (Table 2).
Based on these comparisons, AHP computes the importance of
the criteria.
2.2.2. TOPSIS method
The TOPSIS method, which was proposed by Hwang and Yoon
(1981), is one of the best known classical MCDM. It is based upon

nchez-Lozano et al. / Journal of Cleaner Production 127 (2016) 387e398


J.M. Sa

392

the concept that the chosen alternative should have the shortest
distance from the positive ideal solution (PIS), and the farthest from
the negative ideal solution (NIS).
The computational steps of the TOPSIS method are the
following:
Step 1 Establish a performance decision matrix
Step 2 Normalize the decision matrix by means of

,v
uX
u m  2
nij xij t
xij ; j 1; ; n; i 1; ; m:

(1)

vij wj 5nij ; j 1; ; n; i 1; ; m;

(2)

Step 4 Determine the positive ideal solution (PIS) and negative


ideal solution (NIS)







o
n
0

max vij ;j2J
i 1;2;;m
A v
max vij ;j2J
1 ;;vn
i
i


o 
n
0

max vij ;j2J
i 1;2;;m
max vij ;j2J
A v
1 ;;vn
i

(3)

8
<X
n
:

vij  v
j

j1

j1

vij  v
j

91

2 =2
;
91

2 =2
;

d
i

Step 3 Calculation of the overall concordance

P
Cai ; bh

kj $cj ai $bh
P

(7)

kj

j2F

Step 4 Determination of the discordance indexes by criteria

dj ai ; bh 0gj ai  gj bh  pj
gj bh gj ai  pj
v j  pj
(8)

; 1 1; ; m

(4)

Step 5 Obtaining the degree of credibility

ss ai ; bh Cai ; bh $

d
i
; i 1; ; m
d
i

Y 1  dj ai ; bh
j2F

1  Cai ; bh

where F




j2F dj ai ; bh > Cai ; bh

The ranking score Ri is calculated using the equation:

d
i

j2F

dj ai ; bh 1gj bh  vj bh  gj ai

Step 6 Calculate the relative closeness to the ideal solution

Ri

(6)

cj ai ; bh 1gj bh  gi ai  qj

; 1 1; ; m

gj ai pj  gj bh
pj  q j

0 < dj ai ; bh < 1gj bh  vj < gj ai  gj bh  pj 0dj ai ; bh

Step 5 Calculate the separation measures.

cj ai ; bh 0pj  gi bh  gj ai
0 < cj ai ; bh < 1qj < gj bh  gj ai  pj 0cj ai ; bh

Step 3 Calculate the weighted normalized decision matrix

d
i

Actions referred to as the limits of the various categories for


classifying potential actions are dened, and preference thresholds
pj(bh) and indifference qj(bh) such that qj(bh) represents the greatest
difference gj(a)gj(bh) that maintains indifference between a and
bh to the criterion gj and, pj(bh) represents the smallest difference
gj(a)gj(bh) compatible with a preference a on the criterion gj.
Step 2 Determination of concordance indexes by criteria

j1

8
<X
n

Step 1 Denition of reference actions

(5)

Such that: If Ri 1 / Ai A and if Ri 0 / Ai A


Step 7 Rank the preference order

2.2.3. The ELECTRE TRI method


ELECTRE TRI (Roy and Bouyssou, 1991; Yu, 1992a, 1992b) is a
method that assigns a set of alternatives to previously dened
categories. In this context a category is dened as a way of classifying the different alternatives between two limits (upper and
lower limit), according to some aptitude or capacity. The assignment of an alternative a to one category or another is obtained by
comparing the alternative with the limits of the predened
categories.
ELECTRE TRI builds an outranking relationship S i.e., to validate
or invalidate the assertion aSbh (and bhSa) whose meaning is
alternative a is at least as good as bh.

(9)

Step 6 Determination of the outranking relationship


3. Results and discussion
After identifying the criteria that inuence the location of these
types of facilities as stated, it is necessary to know their weights,
and for this the AHP method is used. These weights were obtained
(Table 3) through a survey of a group of three experts and using the
AHP method.
Knowing the weights of the criteria it is possible to assess the
alternatives using the methodologies described. The problem is to
assess locations (alternatives) obtained by GIS, they are divided by
Table 3
Weight vector for the location problem for solar installations.
Criteria to implement solar photovoltaic plants
w1

w2

w3

w4

w5

w6

w7

w8

w9

w10

0.0419 0.0586 0.1271 0.0513 0.0493 0.1449 0.1855 0.1680 0.1195 0.05384

nchez-Lozano et al. / Journal of Cleaner Production 127 (2016) 387e398


J.M. Sa
Table 4
Locations available by municipality.

393

Table 7
Measure of PIS and NIS distances and relative closeness to the ideal solution.

Suitable locations
Municipalities

Alternatives


Aguilas
Alcantarilla
Cartagena
Fuente Alamo
n
La Unio
Lorca
zares
Los Alca
n
Mazarro
Murcia
Puerto Lumbreras
San Javier
San Pedro del Pinatar
Torre Pacheco
TOTAL

437
6733
391
286
25,396
148
9243
5634
4371
3144
538
5216
66,845

a2147
a1060
a1266
a445
a2674
a1989
a2754
a705
a800
a994

5308

municipalities so that the database is divided into 13 decision


matrices (Table 4). These matrices would have been dened in a
single matrix, nevertheless in order to facilitate the development of
the methodology described previously; a municipality will be
selected which contains an intermediate number of alternatives.
3.1. TOPSIS
Applying the TOPSIS method to the alternatives of each of the
municipalities that are included in the study area through a
spreadsheet, a ranking is obtained, based on the value of R. The best
alternatives are those whose values of R are closer to unity, i.e.
closer to the positive ideal solution.
To develop the model, it has been applied to the municipality of
San Javier, which has an intermediate number of plots
(alternatives).
The decision matrix is represented by 3114 rows for total alternatives, which in Table 5 represent only the top 10 according to
the nal ranking.
The steps of the TOPSIS method allow to obtain the weighted
normalized decision matrix. This theoretical development has not
been included herein due to a lack of space. The next step consists
in determining the positive ideal solution (PIS) and negative ideal
solution (NIS), their values are obtained through the expression 3
(Table 6).

d

0.004481
0.021591
0.035491
0.036460
0.038009
0.038703
0.038483
0.038485
0.039066
0.038281

0.055206
0.034959
0.021870
0.021141
0.019810
0.019918
0.019803
0.019561
0.018913
0.018305

0.9249
0.6182
0.3813
0.3670
0.3426
0.3398
0.3398
0.3370
0.3262
0.3235

The nal steps of TOPSIS provide the separation of each alternative with respect to the PIS and NIS values (d and
d respectively) and a ranking score of alternatives (Table 7). The
best alternative must have the closest value to 1, therefore in this
case it corresponds to alternative A2147.
Fig. 4 shows all the alternatives to be assessed in the municipality of San Javier (3144), with the top 10 being indicated in blue
(in the web version), according to the TOPSIS method.
Proceeding similarly with other municipalities that comprise
the study area, all of the maps representing the evaluation of locations available will be obtained according to the TOPSIS method.
In order to enable comparisons with other multi-criteria
methodology, the alternatives were also assessed by the ELECTRE
TRI method.
3.2. ELECTRE TRI
The rst step is to dene the references actions that will be
nchez-Lozano et al.
dened in a similar way as described in Sa
(2014) i.e., by an expert who is a promoter of renewable energy
facilities with over 10 years of experience in the sector. All necessary parameters are dened in order to apply the ELECTRE TRI
method (Table 8).
Developing each of the ELECTRE TRI method steps for each
municipality through a spreadsheet, each of the alternatives to
evaluate will be classied into categories (category 1, 2, 3 and 4). As
an example, the values of the degrees of credibility and the category
on the top 10 alternatives of the municipality of San Javier are
represented in Table 9 and the indicative map (Fig. 5) shows the

Table 5
Decision Matrix of the best 10 locations in the municipality of San Javier.

a2147
a1060
a1266
a445
a2674
a1989
a2754
a705
a800
a994

g1 (Classes)

g2 (m2)

g3 (m)

g4 (m)

g5 (m)

g6 (m)

g7 (KJ/m2$da)

g8 (%)

g9 (Classes)

g 10 ( C)

1.85
4.00
3.00
3.00
1.33
5.67
1.50
2.00
2.00
0.67

397301.24
245835.68
139810.84
132862.28
123041.29
117771.77
118080.17
118220.92
114530.21
122049.28

25.00
268.38
63.17
153.11
176.74
25.00
361.88
82.45
120.63
425.17

1.00
2.95
1.00
1.00
94.98
1.00
1.00
1.00
31.57
1162.65

1951.40
5036.51
4343.95
5041.24
2027.28
465.84
361.94
2402.73
2418.71
2961.10

1230.51
1133.57
1302.96
1450.61
209.53
48.74
539.58
574.02
410.66
395.06

2040.69
2048.16
2045.04
2042.97
2043.33
2043.97
2043.25
2042.38
2041.46
2042.59

0.44
1.52
0.94
0.38
0.72
0.49
0.78
0.13
0.64
1.08

4.00
5.00
6.00
6.00
4.00
6.00
4.00
8.00
4.00
8.00

17.42
17.66
17.70
17.70
17.70
17.60
17.59
17.61
17.61
17.70

Table 6
Ideal solution (PIS) and anti-ideal solution (NIS) in the municipality of San Javier.
A
A-

0.00210
0.00000

0.05409
0.00013

0.00002
0.00347

0.00000
0.00883

0.00007
0.00632

0.00713
0.00000

0.00214
0.00211

0.00000
0.00413

0.00195
0.00024

0.00097
0.00093

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J.M. Sa

Fig. 4. Representation of the 3144 alternatives of the municipality of San Javier and the top 10 according to TOPSIS.

nchez-Lozano et al. / Journal of Cleaner Production 127 (2016) 387e398


J.M. Sa

395

Table 8
Reference actions.

b1
b2
b3
Pj
qj(b)
pj(b)
vj(b)

g1

g2

g3

g4

g5

g6

g7

g8

g9

g10

2
4
7
0.0419
1
4
6

30
20
10
0.0586
5
15
40

25000
50000
100000
0.1271
3
1000
25000

5
8
10
0.0513
4
7
9

1000
500
25
0.0493
100
200
650

10000
1000
100
0.1449
100
300
500

100
500
750
0.1855
100
300
800

6250
2500
500
0.1680
150
3000
10000

1200
1700
2000
0.1195
0
1500
2050

16.00
18.00
20.00
0.05384
17.50
17.60
17.70

Table 9
Top 10 alternatives degrees of credibility and categories.

A2147
A1060
A1266
A445
A2674
A1989
A2754
A705
A800
A994

ss(ai,b1)

ss(ai,b2)

ss(ai,b3)

Category

1.00
1.00
1.00
1.00
1.00
1.00
1.00
1.00
1.00
1.00

0.98
0.86
0.90
0.86
0.80
0.81
0.98
0.99
0.99
0.90

0.85
0.74
0.79
0.78
0.28
0.81
0.77
0.78
0.63
0.00

Category
Category
Category
Category
Category
Category
Category
Category
Category
Category

4
4
4
4
3
4
4
4
3
3

classication of all the alternatives according to the ELECTRE TRI


method for this municipality.
3.2.1. Comparative analyses
Although upon simple observation of Figs. 4 and 5 it can seem
that the results are similar for the best alternatives, for a more
exhaustive comparison of the top 10 alternatives in the municipality
chosen, these will be selected according to the TOPSIS method by
identifying and showing the locations (UTM Zone 30 coordinate
system). These will then be compared with the results obtained with
the ELECTRE TRI method (Table 10). Furthermore, since the ELECTRE
TRI method allows a categorization without actually providing a
review thereof, as a measure of comparison, the value of the degree
of credibility (ss) of each alternative will be compared by the category to which it belongs (specied values will be shown in brackets)
i.e., by the value it is known to what extent each alternative exceeds
the limit of the category to which it belongs.
Considering the 3144 alternatives of the municipality, according
to calculations made by ELECTRE TRI there are seven alternatives
located in the best category (category 4). When comparing the
results (Tables 5 and 10) it is seen that although the values obtained
by TOPSIS do not totally coincide with the classication provided by
ELECTRE, the seven alternatives classed in the best category by
ELECTRE are located among the ten best rated by TOPSIS. The best
alternative rated according to ELECTRE TRI (A2147) coincides with
the highest score according to TOPSIS, while the second best
alternative according to ELECTRE TRI (A1989) is in sixth position
according to TOPSIS. To a certain extent, it is logical that the results
obtained for the best alternatives are similar because both methods
take into account all the criteria that inuence the decision of such
location problems.
The same thing happens with the rest of the better alternatives,
i.e., they have good scores in the criteria which have high weight
and, if they have some poor value for those criteria, this value is
compensated by the values of the rest of better criteria. For
example, the second best alternative according to ELECTRE TRI
(A1989) has a poor value for the best criterion (criterion g7),
however this value is compensated by the good scores in the
following better criteria (criteria g6 and g8).

The results show that, although the ELECTRE TRI method works
in a discreet manner and benets those alternatives which are
slightly above each category and is detrimental for those alternatives which are slightly below each category, the weights of the
criteria are fundamental to sort any alternative into its corresponding category. Alternative A1989 is a clear example.
Then, a deep analysis will be carried out with the rest of the
alternatives located in category 3. It should be pointed out that
there is only one alternative (A994) which has veto to achieve the
category 4 in criteria g1 and g6, however this alternative does not
have the lowest credibility degree (its value is 0.90). In comparison
with alternative A2674, it is worth noting that in spite of not having
veto to achieve the best category; the credibility degree value of
alternative A2674 is lower than that of alternative A994. Therefore,
it is demonstrated that although there is veto for some criteria of
one alternative, the weights of the rest of the criteria are able to
compensate this alternative and thus allow it to improve its credibility degree value.
4. Conclusions
From the study conducted it was found that the GIS software are
not only supporting tools that can help to address a PV farm location problem (in particular, site selection), but they can also
generate databases in spreadsheet format which provide an ideal
starting point to address any issues of territorial nature.
In our example it has been concluded that the coast of the Region of Murcia is an optimal place to implement solar photovoltaic
farms because, once all constraints have been considered, it has
obtained a high percentage of suitable surface available (21.25%). In
addition, a very useful database has been obtained for solving
complex locations such as the evaluation and selection of viable
locations, obtained using multi-criteria decision making
methodologies.
A comparison has been made between two methods of multicriteria decision making (ELECTRE TRI and the TOPSIS method)
and, although the results do not completely coincide, some similarity can be seen between the best alternatives ranked with the
TOPSIS method and the best classied with the ELECTRE TRI
method.
It has been demonstrated that although the ELECTRE TRI
method assigns a set of alternatives to previously dened categories, and the TOPSIS method provides a ranking of these alternatives, it is possible to make a more exhaustive comparison
between both methods through the value of the degree of credibility dened by ELECTRE TRI for each of the alternatives.
Regarding future work of this study, economic studies could be
considered such as a viability analysis which allows the alternatives
to be assessed not only from the technical and environmental point
of view but also from an economic point of view. Certain limitations
of this study could also be countered by increasing the number of
renewable technologies to implement (biomass, biogas, etc.) or by
applying other decision methodologies.

396

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J.M. Sa

Fig. 5. Classication by categories in the municipality of San Javier according to ELECTRE TRI.

nchez-Lozano et al. / Journal of Cleaner Production 127 (2016) 387e398


J.M. Sa

397

Table 10
Comparative between TOPSIS and ELECTRE-TRI methods.
Alternatives

Coord. X

Coord. Y

Polygon

Subplot

Ranking TOPSIS

Category ELECTRE-TRI

A2147

691494.73

4184050.73

017

Plot
29

0.9249

Category 4 (0.85)

A1060
A1266
A445
A2674

684650.28
685340.94
684587.94
689323.43

4190765.84
4190072.15
4190307.66
4190124.10

001
001
001
008

13
33
13
71

a
a
b
a

0.6182
0.3813
0.3670
0.3426

Category
Category
Category
Category

A1989

689594.93

4185160.10

019

22

0.3398

Category 4 (0.81)

A2754
A705
A800
A994

688625.94
690543.93
692313.95
688005.95

4188111.15
4183132.10
4187014.07
4191037.62

021
016
012
003

178
28
32
25

a
a
a
a

0.3398
0.3370
0.3262
0.3235

Category
Category
Category
Category

4
4
4
3

4
4
3
3

(0.74)
(0.79)
(0.78)
(0.80)

(0.77)
(0.78)
(0.99)
(0.90)

(*) This is the score obtained through the value of the degree of credibility for each category.

Acknowledgement
Authors acknowledge support through projects TIN201455024-P from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, and P11-TIC-8001 from the Consejera de Economa,
 n y Ciencia of Junta de Andaluca (both including FEDER
Innovacio
funds from CEE).
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