Reducing Uncertainties in Large-Scale Solar Resource Data: The Impact of Aerosols

Aron Habte, Manajit Sengupta, Christian Gueymard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus Citations


This study examines the impact of various aerosol databases on the accuracy of irradiance predictions pertaining to the National Solar Radiation Database (NSRDB) over the Americas. Compared to the Modern-Era Retrospective analysis for Research and Applications, Version 2 (MERRA-2) reanalysis and moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) space-borne observations, the various improvements that have been made to develop the SOLSUN aerosol database are described, using a monthly temporal resolution and a 4-km spatial resolution. Relative to MERRA-2, these improvements result in lower uncertainty in the solar irradiance components. The most recent version of the NSRDB now uses hourly MERRA-2 aerosol data with bias and elevation correction. This significantly improves the frequency distribution of hourly direct irradiance while having only a small impact on the annual solar resource, as suggested by the validation undertaken here at 12 control sites.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number8478427
Pages (from-to)1732-1737
Number of pages6
JournalIEEE Journal of Photovoltaics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 IEEE.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5D00-71597


  • Aerosol optical depth
  • air mass
  • elevation
  • irradiance
  • photovoltaic systems
  • satellite
  • solar energy
  • solar resource
  • spatial resolution
  • validation


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