The shadows in a city disclose its energy flow

New software developed at the Facultad de Informática calculates how much solar radiation reaches streets and buildings.

Researchers at the Facultad de Informática (UPM) have created “shadow models” and software that calculates the amount of solar radiation that reaches streets and buildings in high resolution. According to the results published in the Research Journal of Chemistry and Environment, these shadow models could help to optimise the energy consumption of cities.

“Solar radiation that falls on a certain point in the city varies depending on the time of day, the weather conditions, the pollution level and other variables,” explains Roberto San José, lecturer at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM). “What we have done is to calculate radiation using supercomputers that simulate the vast amount of data involved in the entire atmospheric process,” he adds.

The method involves throwing up to 100,000 rays of light from any position for just a few seconds and verifying the point of collision upon reaching obstacles. Calculations are so complex that it took the powerful machines at Madrid’s Supercomputing and Visualization Centre (CEsViMa-UPM) and the Mare Nostrum supercomputer at the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre 72 hours to get just 6 seconds of light and shadow evolution for an area of Madrid, Spain.