by Arthur Tong
GeoVisualization Project @RyersonGeo, SA8905, FALL 2020
Project Weblink (Click Here)
Getting electricity to a country’s homes, different types of buildings and industries is an extremely challenging task, especially for countries that are enourmous in land area; transporting power over long distances are much more difficult. Up to now, the produced electrical energy is either very inconvenient to store or expensive, and with the increasing demand over the years in Canada, balancing betwen two in real time is crucial.
The way how electricity is generated solely depends on what kind of technologies and fuels are avaiable by that area. According to Natural Resources Canada (2020), “the most important energy source in Canada is moving water , which accounts for 59.3% of electricty supply, making it the second largest producer of hydroelectricity in the world with over 378 tearwatt hours in 2014.”
The goal of this interactive map project is to view most of the power plants in Canada and their respective sources and generating capacties (MW), which are proportional to the size of the circles shown in the project weblink above.
In this section, I will be introducing the methdology for conducting this project. I would first describe how the data was collected, then followed by steps needed to produce the final dashboard with Tableau Public.
For the purpose of this study, I would need to retrieve pin-point (latitude/longitude) location of all types of power plants across Canada: from primary energy like nuclear energy and the renewables, to secondary energy that are produced from primary energy commodities like coal, natural gas and diesel. I tried looking up on various sources like Open Government Portal, but most of the open data they provide does not necessarily contain the power plants’ exact location.
Therefore, I had to manually pin-point all the data from external sources, mostly based on these two websites Global Energy Observatory (GEO) and The Wind Power. Other projects were identified by looking up on either the publicly/privately owned electricity utility company’s websites for all the provinces, for example BC Hydro, Ontario Hydro, TransAlta, etc, and their relative coordinates were retrieved using google maps. A similar interactive map “Electricity Generating Stations in British Columbia Map” has been done by researchers from University of Victoria, which provided most of the data for British Columbia and framework on what other relevant data I would like to include for my other provinces (as shown in the figure below).
In addition, all 13 provinces were accounted and a total of 612 points were collected manually.
Construction of Tableau Dashboard
Tableau Public is the software used for this project. First, load in the excel data into Tableau through Data->Open New Data Source-> Microsoft Excel. Here, make sure the latitude and longitude columns were assigned a Geographic role as shown in the snapshot below, so they could be used to map the data.
From the new worksheet screen, sections on the left corresponds to the columns of the table. Drag the non-generated latitude and longitude to columns and rows and choose the ‘symbol map’ under ‘show me’ on top right. If the ‘unknown locations’ tab pop-up from the bottom right, it means that Tableau was not able to automatically align the name of the provinces given to the column to their database, which can be simply fixed by clicking that tab and manually edit the unknown locations. After dragging in essential elements you want to present, it would look something like this as shown in the figure below. In addition, the base map can also be changed into a dark theme under Map->Background Maps.
Moving on, to create a bar/pie chart, hover the bar on the left to choose which graph would best visualize the data you are trying present, then drag essential data into columns/rows.
Last but not least, add a new ‘dashboard’ sheet and drag in all the maps/graphs into the dashboard to be the final product. Organizing the layout in the dashboard could be frustrating without the proper frame, you may also consider making elements like the filters and smaller graphs into a ‘float’ item by right clicking it, so that those ‘floating’ items could be placed on top of other elements on the dashbaord; in this case, I made the bar graph ‘floating’ so it is layed on top of the interactive map.
RESULTS & LIMITATIONS
Hydroelectricty do contribute to 56.67% of electricity generation across the country, followed by natural gas (12.39%) and nuclear energy (11.29%). However, a lot of electricity generation in Alberta are still based on coal, which takes up to 46.21% of the total capacity in that province.
Since all the data were collected manually, they may not be 100% accurate but the idea is to have a sense on where approximately it is located. For example, one single wind farm containing ten wind turbines may consist a large space across the mountain/field, the data collected was based on one wind turbine instead of plotting all ten of them.
Moreover, less developed provinces like the Northwest Territories has a very low amount of electricity generated due to its lower population (one diesel power plant per small town located using google satellite), there could have been more power plants around the area.
In conclusion, precise and consistent data is lacking for all the provinces from open data source portal, creating a potential for future similar studies carried out if more data is allowed. A time line perspective could also be added to this interactive map as well, so as users drag along the bar they can see the change in different types of powerplants that were being built in different locations.