The rise in the solar energy around the world necessitates ever improved solar radiation data. The different types of solar radiation data that are needed for the development of solar energy projects are called “solar radiation products” in this report. Most of these products are commonly named using similar words, but their quality and content may differ significantly from product to product. This is the case for “solar resource assessment” products. These can either describe the solar radiation behavior at a specific location, form the generation of an annual series for simulation, or consist of satellite-derived solar radiation datasets.
Some products may also have a wide range of accuracy, from very precise high-quality minute measurements to hourly estimations or predictions with low spatial resolution. All these products can be useful and provide relevant information, but the right choice of a solar radiation product depends on the specific requirements of the application of interest.
The objective of this project is to organize the solar radiation products according to different uses, mainly related to the end-users and/or the stage of the project development. Each product has an appropriate target group of customers and it is important to properly match each other. Furthermore, in this project a set of minimal requirements is also proposed for each case study.
Figure 1 show the general purpose of this project, what is helping the end users in the selection of the solar radiation product better for their needs (Sengupta et al., 2017).
The outcomes of the project will be published on a dedicated web page. Examples and comparisons of products can be added in the future if there is interest from the end user community and solar radiation product providers.
The report is organized in the eight categories that has been established for the solar radiation products. For each category, one or two products are presented as well as the main characteristics of those products. Next, the specific needs of those products are presented by each project stages and end users, including the minimum or recommended values for the relevant specification items.
Thus, the project is focused on providing practical information oriented primarily to users. At the end of the report, references are included for those requiring deeper knowledge in the field.
A product is, according to the Meriam-Webster dictionary definition (second sense):
(1) : something produced.
(2) : something (such as a service) that is marketed or sold as a commodity.
In this report, the word product will be used without distinction in any of these two senses.
End user is the ultimate consumer of a finished product (Merriam-Webster dictionary). Thus, if a certain user makes use of a solar radiation product to elaborate another solar radiation product the user is not considered an end user for that specific product for the purposes of this report. For example, a company that uses long-term solar radiation series to elaborate forecasts for a plant operator is not the end user of the solar radiation series.
The end users of solar radiation products have been organized depending on the project stages:
(B) Feasibility and design
(C) Due Diligence Financing
(D) Plant Acceptance Tests
(E) Systems or Plant Operations
In addition, three general end users are considered:
(F) Grid operators
(G) Policy makers
(H) Education / Outreach
All of them (project categories and end users), require solar radiation information. Through this report, options for meeting those needs are proposed while establishing a minimal requirement for each type of end user.
In this project, the solar radiation products have been organized in nine different categories.
1. Maps and solar radiation potential assessments
2. Consultancy services on solar radiation measurements.
3. Modeled solar radiation and meteorological parameters
4. Long term representative time series in a specific location
5. Solar radiation variability
6. Low level attenuation and sunshape
7. Solar radiation forecasting and nowcasting.
8. Characterization and calibration of solar radiation sensors