Best Practices Handbook for the Collection and Use of Solar Resource Data for Solar Energy Applications

Aron Habte, Manajit Sengupta, Sarah Kurtz, S Wilbert, E. Lorenz, T. Stoffel, D. Renné, D. Myers, S. Wilcox, P. Blanc, R. Perez, Aron Dobos

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


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 is the challenge for this century. Photovoltaics, solar heating and cooling, and concentrating solar power (CSP) are primary forms of energy applications using sunlight. These solar energy systems use different technologies, collect differentfractions of the solar resource, and have different siting requirements and production capabilities. Reliable information about the solar resource is required for every solar energy application. This holds true for small installations on a rooftop as well as for large solar power plants. However, solar resource information is of particular interest for large installations, because they require asubstantial 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) subhourly variability to predict the daily and annual performance of a proposed power plant. Without this data, an accurate financial analysis is not possible.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages255
StatePublished - 2015

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5D00-63112


  • concentrating solar power (CSP)
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
  • NREL
  • photovoltaics (PV)
  • solar data
  • solar heating and cooling
  • solar power


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