Solar energy

Weather and climate are strongly linked to the energy market. They constantly affect energy supply and demand. Having in advance accurate information on how weather and climate will be in the future, can lead to better results for your company. We provide short term and climate predictions of the availability of the solar resource, which is directly linked to the energy production in photovoltaic panels. Energy production is also affected by airborne dust emitted from arid regions around the world. The solar energy community could benefit from specifically-designed end user dust products to improve solar resource assessment and plant operation especially in arid regions where soiling and ageing of plant components and solar radiation attenuation due to dust is an issue. Recent advances in science and technology have significantly improved our ability to provide information on both short term mineral dust forecasts and solar irradiance reaching photovoltaic panels. This information support stakeholders in the solar energy sector to take more informed decisions allowing them to save time and money.

Each actor within the solar energy sector has specific requirements for climate information. Current energy production and distribution systems are designed to respond to weather variability, such as daily changes in solar irradiance that affect the total energy load, or rapid changes in renewable resource availability that affect the energy supply. The accuracy of existing weather models to predict solar irradiance is not always satisfactory and a large proportion of uncertainty is attributed to the lack of accurate aerosol data. Dust affects the atmospheric radiation budget and has an effect on cloud formation and precipitation. Airborne dust can also obscure the sun and its deposition makes the solar mirrors dirty, subsequently reducing the energy production and demanding laborious and costly maintenance and cleanup tasks. Short-term forecasts are normally associated to the operational phase of photovoltaic panels and are useful for:

  • Power system management performed by transmission system operators (scheduling, reserves planning, congestion management)
  • Trading in the energy market
  • Improvement of the management of solar infrastructures (through identification of periods when panels need maintenance and cleanup tasks)

Climate predictions of solar irradiance are helpful to assess the variability of the solar resource over near-future time scales. Early identification of climate-related vulnerabilities will help the solar energy sector to identify risks and opportunities for energy producers and traders. Potential applications of climate predictions for the solar energy sector are:

  • Mid-term operations and maintenance planning
  • Energy trading and energy prices
  • Cash flow anticipation
  • Meet the balance between supply and demand
  • Maximisation of grid integration
  • Support decisions about reserve energy sources
  • Portfolio modelling




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