Methodology for Clustering High-Resolution Spatiotemporal Solar Resource Data

Daniel Getman, Anthony Lopez, Trieu Mai

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


We introduce a methodology to achieve multiple levels of spatial resolution reduction of solar resource data, with minimal impact on data variability, for use in energy systems modeling. The selection of an appropriate clustering algorithm, parameter selection including cluster size, methods of temporal data segmentation, and methods of cluster evaluation are explored in the context of a repeatable process. In describing this process, we illustrate the steps in creating a reduced resolution, but still viable, dataset to support energy systems modeling, e.g. capacity expansion or production cost modeling. This process is demonstrated through the use of a solar resource dataset; however, the methods are applicable to other resource data represented through spatiotemporal grids, including wind data. In addition to energy modeling, the techniques demonstrated in this paper can be used in a novel top-down approach to assess renewable resources within many other contexts that leverage variability in resource data but require reduction in spatial resolution to accommodate modeling or computing constraints.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages23
StatePublished - 2015

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A20-63148


  • clusters
  • geospatial analysis
  • renewable energy (RE)
  • solar resources


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