NREL, Iberdrola set up solar resource measuring stations out West

csp-image.jpg As renewable energy, particularly concentrated and other solar power project developers are flocking to remote parts of the southwest, the Dept. of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab and Spain’s Iberdrola Renewables are building a network of solar resource monitoring stations across the region to minimize the uncertainties and risks.
The public-private sector partnership today announced that they have deployed the first of several such stations in Arizona as part of a planned instrumentation network – NREL’s Solar Resource and Meteorological Assessment Project, or SOLRMAP, that will extend across the United States, according to a media release.
With funding supplied by industry partners, SOLRMAP’s installations in Arizona will collect “precise, long-term solar resource measurements” that will be incorporated into technical analysis that aims to minimize the risk of commercial solar energy conversion projects, including concentrated solar power plants, according to the partners.
For the first set of measuring stations in Arizona, NREL and Iberdrola are using Irradiance Inc.’s rotating shadowband radiometer to collect direct and diffuse solar measurements. These measure and record the strength and consistency of sunlight at the station locations, as well as wind and temperature data.
NREL is going to combine the SOLRMAP data with information from existing regional solar radiation networks to upgrade models that populate a database of 10-km resolution solar resource data across the United States. The data collected will be used by NREL researchers and analysts to sharpen solar modeling, solar resource forecasting, and database development, according to NREL.
“The project is a win-win collaboration between NREL and industry to optimize the quality of solar resource data used to evaluate the viability of large-scale projects in the southwest U.S.,” said Steve Wilcox, a senior scientist with NREL’s Solar Radiation research program, and the Laboratory’s lead in the SOLRMAP collaboration.

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