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

Aron Habte, Manajit Sengupta, Christian Gueymard, Stefan Wilbert, Dave Renne, Thomas Stoffel

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 different fractions 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 substantial investment, sometimes exceeding 1 billion dollars 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 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. Additionally, with the deployment of large amounts of distributed photovoltaics, there is an urgent need to integrate this source of generation to ensure the reliability and stability of the grid. Forecasting generation from the various sources will allow for larger penetrations of these generation sources because utilities and system operators can then ensure stable grid operations. Developed by the foremost experts in the field who have come together under the umbrella of the International Energy Agency's Solar Heating and Cooling Task 46, this handbook summarizes state-of-the-art information about all the above topics.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages238
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

This update was prepared in collaboration with the International Energy Agency Solar Heating and Cooling Programme: Task 46

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5D00-68886


  • concentrating solar power
  • CSP
  • photovoltaics
  • PV
  • solar data
  • solar heating and cooling
  • solar power


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