Validating an Operational Physical Method to Compute Surface Radiation from Geostationary Satellites

Manajit Sengupta, Andrew Heidinger, Steven Miller

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

9 Scopus Citations


Models to compute global horizontal irradiance (GHI) and direct normal irradiance (DNI) have been in development over the last three decades. These models can be classified as empirical or physical based on the approach. Empirical models relate ground-based observations with satellite measurements and use these relations to compute surface radiation. Physical models consider the physics behind the radiation received at the satellite and create retrievals to estimate surface radiation. While empirical methods have been traditionally used for computing surface radiation for the solar energy industry, the advent of faster computing has made operational physical models viable. The Global Solar Insolation Project (GSIP) is a physical model that computes DNI and GHI using the visible and infrared channel measurements from a weather satellite. GSIP uses a two-stage scheme that first retrieves cloud properties and uses those properties in a radiative transfer model to calculate GHI and DNI. Developed for polar orbiting satellites, GSIP has been adapted to NOAA's Geostationary Operation Environmental Satellite series and can run operationally at high spatial resolutions. This method holds the possibility of creating high quality datasets of GHI and DNI for use by the solar energy industry. We present an outline of the methodology and results from running the model as well as a validation study using ground-based instruments.

Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages8
StatePublished - 2010
EventReliability of Photovoltaic Cells, Modules, Components, and Systems III - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: 3 Aug 20105 Aug 2010


ConferenceReliability of Photovoltaic Cells, Modules, Components, and Systems III
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego, CA

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-550-48808


  • Direct normal irradiance
  • DNI
  • Empirical models
  • GHI
  • Global horizontal irradiance
  • Global Solar Insolation Project
  • GOES data
  • GSIP
  • Physical models


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