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Category Archives: Resource Assessment
Introduction to Satellite Observation Networks
Satellite observation networks provide invaluable data on the climate and the layered atmosphere. Space satellite data is a key input to assess the feasibility and operational integrity of renewable energy power systems.
Welcome to Sunlight and Weather, a technical introduction to solar irradiance, the Earth’s atmosphere, and the basic principles which define the performance of solar power systems.
Solar radiation data is best obtained direct from sensors, be it ground stations, satellite observation networks, or modeled solutions that combine both. To this end, solar data is available from various databases, modeling projects, and commercial venders….all with varying degrees of quality.
The Earth’s atmosphere has several effects on terrestrial radiation. The figure below depicts the relative importance of atmospheric impacts on the sunlight striking the Earth’s surface. The process poster also depicts the solar energy balance of the Earth-atmosphere system.
The major impacts of the atmosphere on sunlight include:
- A reduction in solar radiation and change in spectral content given atmospheric absorption;
Weather data sources are presented that were collated to support wind and solar resource assessment, engineering design, and power system monitoring. Data sources include ground stations, satellite observation networks, reanalysis data, forecasts systems, and aerosol models.
All links and content have been extracted from data source websites to facilitate ease of access to data servers. Please contribute if you find links have changed or data product definitions should be updated.
“I’d put my money on the Sun and solar energy, what a source of power! We shouldn’t wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”
– Thomas Edison in conversation with Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone, 1931
Intro to Reanalysis Data
Reanalysis is a scientific method for developing a comprehensive and consistent record of how the weather and climate are changing over time. Reanalysis data relies on the assimalation of sensor data from multiple sources and numerical weather prediction models to produce a continually updated, gridded data set that describes the state of the Earth’s atmosphere at difference points in time and space. Gridded reanalysis data is available from different sources. The different data sources vary with respect to
Total Solar Irradiance and the Solar Constant
Extraterrestrial irradiance refers to solar irradiance outside the earth’s atmosphere. Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) is the amount of incoming solar electromagnetic radiation per unit area at the top of the Earth’s atmosphere (TOA). The solar constant is the mean TSI.
Ground station sensors for weather and climate observation are listed below. The list is limited to station networks that that provide verification of wind and solar resource data.
Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD) defines the degree to which aerosols prevent the transmission of sunlight by absorption or scattering. AOD is measured using an integrated extinction coefficient over a vertical column of air. The extinction coefficient can be used to analyze solar extinction and the performance of solar power systems as a function of location and time.
Solar data collection, as defined by ISO and WMO standards, is a relatively new activity in Qatar. This article summarizes initiatives underway. In nearly all cases, public access to the solar radiation data is limited since data collection remains immature and unvalidated, or the data is strongly aligned to private commercial interests. Notwithstanding, data collection efforts are making significant progress and are likely to benefit renewable energy strategy development and policy design at the national level.