Concentrating solar power: best practices handbook for the collection and use of solar resource data
This handbook presents detailed information about solar resource data and the resulting data products needed for each stage of a concentrating solar power project, from initial site selection to systems operations. It is not meant to be read from cover to cover, but to be used as a reference during each project stage.
As the world looks for low carbon sources of energy, solar power stands out as the single most abundant energy resource on Earth. Harnessing this energy stands forth as the challenge for this century. Photovoltaics (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) are two primary forms of electricity generation using sunlight.
Although PV systems are most often deployed as distributed generation sources, CSP systems favor large, centrally located systems. Accordingly, large CSP systems require a substantial investment, sometimes exceeding $1 billion in construction costs. Before such a project is undertaken, the best possible information about the quality and reliability of the fuel source must be made available. That is, project developers need to have reliable data about the solar resource available at specific locations, including historic trends with seasonal, daily, hourly, and (preferably) sub-hourly variability to predict the daily and annual performance of a proposed CSP plant. Without these data, no financial analysis is possible
The handbook was developed in response to a growing need by the concentrating solar power community for a single document addressing the key aspects of solar resource characterization. The material was assembled by scientists and engineers who have many decades of combined experience in atmospheric science, radiometry, meteorological data processing, and renewable energy technology development.