Investigaciones y Recursos Solares Avanzados

Solar Radiation Estimation Derived from Satellite Images

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t has been generally accepted by the international scientific community that solar radiation estimation (SRE) from geostationary satellite images is a suitable tool, taking into account temporal and spatial distribution, availability of representative time series, to estimate solar resource at locations where no previous ground historic radiometric records are available. The use of estimations from satellites is considered better than nearby ground measurements when they are separated by more than 30km from the location where the solar plant is planned.

Our methodology has been accepted by the scientific community and its main usefulness is in the estimation of the spatial distribution of solar radiation over a region. Its maturity is guaranteed by initiatives like the establishment in 2004 of a new IEA (International Energy Agency) task known as “Solar Radiation Knowledge from Satellite Images” or the fact that the measuring solar radiation network BSRN (Baseline Surface Radiation Network) promoted by WMO (World Meteorological Organization) has as its main objectives for the improvement of solar radiation estimation from satellite images models.

SRE from satellite images offered has been developed from a modified version of the globally renowned model Heliosat-3, developed and validated by CIEMAT with more than thirty radiometric stations in the Iberian Peninsula. After this first development, IrSOLaV has generated a fully operational tool which is applied to  a database of satellite images available with IrSOLaV (temporal and spatial resolution of the data depends on the satellite covering the region under study). It is worthwhile to point out that tuning-up and fitting of the original methodology in different locations of the World have been performed and validated with local data from radiometric stations installed in the region of interest. The precision of the estimation over validation data is around 12% RMSE and -0.2% MBE. It is necessary to take into account that this level of quality is uniform for all the stations analyzed with a margin between ±5% in terms of RMSE and ±4% in terms of MBE. The errors for daily values (are less than) < 10% RMSE and for annual and monthly means (less than) < 5% RMSE.


Database: Africa (2000-present), Americas (2000-present), Asia-Indic (2000-present) and Europe (1994-present).




Analysis of the satellite complete data base for a specific geographic coordinates, this includes a statistical analysis of the data base, analysis of the monthly measurements and anual acumulated, comparing with ground data available in the zone, and generation of the type meteorological year. The analysis is made with horizontal global solar radiation and other component of solar irradiance (direct normal, direct with tracking, global with tracking).




Time series: Yearly, monthly and daily sums, hourly average, 30, 15 and 10 minutes time series.


Meteorological variables: Air temperature over surface, ralative humidity, wind speed, wind direction, pressure, diffuse horizontal irradiance.


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Last update: 06/01/2016


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