Vaisala Provides Unprecedented Online Access to Solar Resource Data

Solar energy [illustrated by photo of sun in field]
Naomi Stringfield
Marketing Manager
Sep 7, 2016
Renewable Energy

New low-cost Solar Time Series Tool cuts model uncertainty and reduces resource risk for solar developers, operators, and engineers​

Today we launched an innovative Solar Time Series Tool that allows solar project developers, operators, and engineering teams to minimize long-term resource risk and improve energy estimates. The new subscription-based service removes the barriers of cost and time in accessing multiple high quality solar resource datasets.

Solar Time Series Tools (screen grab)

As margins on solar projects worldwide get tighter, it is increasingly critical that asset owners are able to understand and manage the impact of long-term production variability when undertaking financial planning. In order to do so, maintaining access to reliable resource data and models is essential.

While the number of high-quality datasets available to the industry is steadily growing, each model uses different inputs and methods of irradiance calculation – and therefore carries inherent uncertainty. Accounting for this uncertainty by determining which model is most reliable for a particular site is a highly important consideration before the data is used as a basis for long-term energy yield and financial assessments.

To date, the industry has either used publically available irradiance datasets based on single models or relied on third-party providers of resource data to carry out evaluation of the available sources. Vaisala's online Solar Time Series Tool, launched today, enables users to make substantial time and cost savings by conducting this analysis in-house.

The tool allows subscribers to compare results from up to five models for any given site, via a visual interface that enables side-by-side analysis of long-term trends. A single annual subscription price provides access to hundreds of time series globally. The availability of multiple datasets gives users the ability to conduct resource risk evaluation and energy modeling – with applications throughout the project lifecycle.

For developers, this will help avoid dramatic shifts in project value. Large deviations between datasets highlight that a project may have greater long-term resource uncertainty and illustrate that there may be a requirement for detailed on-site irradiance measurements.

In turn, portfolio owners and operators will be able to use Vaisala's resource data, which is updated monthly, to weather-adjust project performance at multiple sites. Independent engineering firms will also see the benefit of using these high quality datasets as they look to improve the reliability of their energy estimates.

"Vaisala's tool provides a straightforward means of quickly assessing the quality of the datasets available for any given site," said Inaki Herrero Arregui, Country Manager for North America at Enertis Solar. 

"This is a particular advantage because it allows our team to choose the best resource data for our clients on tight timeframes."

Both time series and Typical Meteorological Year (TMY) data can be downloaded directly from the Solar Time Series Tool and are delivered within 24 hours. For annual subscribers, the cost per download for each individual time series equates to just $50. Consequently, the tool provides one of the most comprehensive and cost-effective sources of bankable resource data currently on the market.

"High quality resource data is the basis for any solar project assessment," said Gwendalyn Bender, Solar Energy Assessment Product Manager at Vaisala.

"However, to date, it has been seen as something of a luxury – and that has been reflected in pricing and a high tolerance when it comes to model uncertainty. With the launch of the Solar Time Series Tool, we're aiming to change that. In the maturing solar sector, reliable data has to be recognized as an essential part of delivering a bankable, investment-grade asset."

For more information on the range of services offered by Vaisala to the renewable energy sector, please visit our team at SPI 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada, Booth 2970, September 12-15.  

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