Doctoral Dissertations

Orcid ID

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Energy Science and Engineering

Major Professor

Budhendra L. Bhaduri

Committee Members

Joshua S. Fu, Nicholas N. Nagle, Olufemi A. Omitaomu


Electricity is vital for modern human civilization, and its demands are expected to significantly rise due to urban growth, transportation modernization, and increasing industrialization and energy accessibility. Meeting the present and future demands while minimizing the environmental degradation from electricity generation pathways presents a significant sustainability challenge. Urban areas consume around 75% of global energy supply yet urban energy statistics are scarce all over the world, creating a severe hindrance for the much-needed energy sustainability studies. This work explores the scope of geospatial data-driven analysis and modeling to address this challenge. Identification and measurements of human habitats, a key measure, is severely misconceived. A multi-scale analysis of high, medium, and coarse resolution datasets in Egypt and Taiwan illustrates the increasing discrepancies from global to local scales. Analysis of urban morphology revealed that high-resolution datasets could perform much better at all scales in diverse geographies while the power of other datasets rapidly diminishes from the urban core to peripheries. A functional inventory of urban settlements was developed for three cities in the developing world using very high-resolution images and texture analysis. Analysis of correspondence between nighttime lights emission, a proxy of electricity consumption, and the settlement inventory was the conducted. The results highlight the statistically significant relationship between functional settlement types and corresponding light emission, and underline the potential of remote sensing data-driven methods in urban energy usage assessment. Lastly, the lack of urban electricity data was addressed by a geospatial modeling approach in the United States. The estimated urban electricity consumption was externally validated and subsequently used to quantify the effects of urbanization on electricity consumption. The results indicate a 23% lowering of electricity consumption corresponding to a 100% increase in urban population. The results highlight the potential of urbanization in lowering per-capita energy usage. The opportunity and limits to such energy efficiency were identified with regards to urban population density. The findings from this work validate the applicability of geospatial data in urban energy studies and provide unique insights into the relationship between urbanization and electricity demands. The insights from this work could be useful for other sustainability studies.


The third chapter of this dissertation was published in Remote Sensing Applications: Society and Environment. It should be cited as "Roy Chowdhury, P. K.., Bhaduri, B. L., & McKee, J. J. (2018). Estimating urban areas: New insights from very high-resolution human settlement data. Remote Sensing Applications: Society and Environment, 10, 93-103".

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