Solar Radiation products for the end-users


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 in this report “solar radiation products”. 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 data.

Some products may also have a wide range of accuracy, from very precise minutely high-quality measurements to hourly estimations or predictions with low spatial resolution. All these products can be useful and provide relevant information but is important to adjust the level of accuracy and resolution of the solar radiation product to the 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 match properly each other. Furthermore, in this project a set of minimal requirements it is also proposed at 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).

Figure 1. General purpose of the project: help the end users in the selectionof solar radiation products. (Figure by L. Ramírez)

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 users community and the solar radiation products providers.

The report is organized in the nine categories that has been established for the solar radiation products. At each category, one or two products are presented as well as the main characteristics of those products. After that, 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 to provide practical information, rather than scientific, and it is oriented to users, not to researchers. At the end of each chapter, some references are included for those willing to get a deeper knowledge in the field.



A. Product

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 in any of these two senses, indistinctly.


B. End-user

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 it is not considered an end user for that specific product for the purposes of this report.

The end users of solar radiation products have been organized depending on the project stages:

(A) Pre-feasibility

(B) Feasibility and design

(C) Due Diligence Financing

(D) Plant Acceptance Tests

(E) Systems or Plant Operations

Figure 2. Main stages of a solar radiation power plant, needs and uses. (Figure by L. Ramírez)

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), have needs of using solar radiation information. Through this report, options for meet those needs are proposed, establishing a minimal requirement for each one.


Product categories

In this project, the solar radiation products have been organized in nine different categories o types.

1. GIS tools and services.

2. Consultancy services related measurements and stations.

3. Modelled datasets for specific periods and time resolutions.

4. TMY and PoE90 series in a specific location.

5. Characterization of solar radiation variability.

6. Characterization of low-level attenuation.

7. Characterization of sun shape.

8. Solar radiation forecasting and nowcasting.

9. Calibration and characterization of solar radiation sensors.


TABLE 1. LOOK UP TABLE OF CATEGORIE AND USES Grey cells in Table 1 are later described. Cells width N.A. legend, means that no relevant applications are showed later.
Proyect developers needs at diferent plant stages Other users
Category of product service (A)
Feasibility & Design
Due Diligence Financing
Plant Accep-tance Test
Systems or Plant Operations
Grid operators
Policy makers
Education / Outreach
GIS & maps SEE >> N.A. N.A. N.A. SEE >> SEE >> SEE >> SEE >>
Consultancy services – measurements & stations SEE >> SEE >> SEE >> SEE >> SEE >> SEE >> N.A. SEE >>
Modeled & satellite-derived datasets SEE >> SEE >> SEE >> N.A. SEE >> N.A. N.A. SEE >>
TMY & MY90 series in a specific location SEE >> SEE >> SEE >> N.A. N.A. N.A. SEE >> SEE >>
Variability SEE >> SEE >> SEE >> N.A. N.A. N.A. SEE >> SEE >>
Local low level attenuation SEE >> SEE >> SEE >> SEE >> SEE >> N.A. SEE >> SEE >>
Sunshape SEE >> SEE >> SEE >> SEE >> SEE >> N.A. SEE >> SEE >>
Forecasting & nowcasting N.A. SEE >> SEE >> SEE >> SEE >> SEE >> SEE >> SEE >>
Solar radiation sensors – Calibration & MAINTENANCE N.A. SEE >> SEE >> SEE >> SEE >> N.A. SEE >> SEE >>

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