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Has anyone tried using satellite-derived solar radiation in their weather files?

asked 2017-12-14 22:58:28 -0500

Joe Huang's avatar

updated 2017-12-17 01:07:59 -0500

The bane of weather data over the past three decades has been the solar radiation (global horizontal and direct normal) which are not measured parameters, but derived using various solar and sky models. All the familiar "typical year" sets, i.e., TMY, WYEC, IWEC, etc. have modeled solar radiation.

For the past decade and a half, researchers around the world have been working to derive solar radiation from weather satellite imagery, driven largely by the needs of the solar power industry for the siting of solar power plants and getting "bankable" solar estimates for their arrays. Our little building energy simulation sector can of course benefit by hanging on the coattails of the solar power industry, but the downside has been to be totally priced out of the market, since the commercial cost for one year's solar data for one location (grid cell) typically runs around $1,000.

A welcome development over the last five years is that various government offices or affiliated consortia are now also beginning to provide public access to satellite-derived solar radiation under various conditions, such as NREL's National Solar Radiation Data Base (NSRDB) in the US, the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) in Europe, the AMATERASS consortium in Japan, etc.

Has anyone tried to work with this source of solar radiation data, and if so, what have been your experiences?

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Going to be picky here, but can you please modify your post to be an actual question, then add the rest as an answer? It is after all a Q&A site, not a Q or an A site :) (and it's perfectly ok to answer your own questions though).

Also a question of whether this is actually informative Q&A or pure commercial announcement can be asked (I personally won't), so please at least make sure you also add a disclaimer at the top of your answer saying you are the owner of WBT. Thanks!

Julien Marrec's avatar Julien Marrec  ( 2017-12-15 05:02:47 -0500 )edit

I've recast my question and answer in the manner suggested. Thanks for the suggestion.

Joe Huang's avatar Joe Huang  ( 2017-12-17 01:50:46 -0500 )edit

Much better, thanks for the edit Joe.

Julien Marrec's avatar Julien Marrec  ( 2017-12-19 03:40:15 -0500 )edit

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answered 2017-12-17 01:50:00 -0500

Joe Huang's avatar

updated 2017-12-17 02:16:56 -0500

I first worked with satellite-derived solar on a project in 2010 to create the new CZ2010 weather files for the California Energy Commission. The solar data was obtained from a commercial source, providing 0.2° lat/lon resolution for the entire state from 1998 through 2009. Processing the weather station data from the ISD took most of the work, importing the satellite solar was quite easy.

I've also used satellite-derived solar from NREL to calibrate modeled solar on a set of 56 Indian weather files done in 2014 for ISHRAE. Direct incorporation was not feasible because at that time NREL released only 5 years of data, which has now been increased to 14 years.

For the past 3 years, WBT has been archiving satellite-derived solar from various public or semi-public sources. Starting in 2018, WBT will be offering historical weather files with satellite-derived solar radiation for the following places and time periods: Europe, Africa, Middle East to 66° east, South America to 66° west longitude (2004 to date), Australia (1999 to date), East Asia (2007 to date, access pending), North, Central, and South America from 60° north to 20° south latitude (1998-2015), South Asia (2000-2014).

For locations where the satellite-derived solar data are not being updated, the past data can still be used to calibrate existing solar models to produce annual solar totals that agree within a few percent. Another benefit to satellite-derived solar is to make weather station data that lack cloud cover usable for building energy simulations. As examples, the number of usable 2017 weather stations in the UK will increase from 64 to 190, in South Africa from 37 to 184, and in Canada from 291 to 748. The total number of 2017 weather files that WBT can produce is expected to increase from 8,230 to 11,016 (3014 USA and Canada, 8002 International).

disclaimer: Joe Huang is the owner and president of White Box Technologies (WBT).

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Asked: 2017-12-14 22:58:28 -0500

Seen: 215 times

Last updated: Dec 17 '17