July 21, 2011
3TIER®, a global leader in renewable energy risk analysis, today released a solar performance map of Australia illustrating a substantial drop in the country's typically abundant solar resource during December 2010. This anomaly correlates with the widespread flooding experienced during January 2011 and demonstrates the importance of using long-term reference data for determining solar project feasibility.
3TIER’s Australian solar performance analysis shows that during December 2010 large portions of the country saw a 5-15% decrease in solar irradiance compared to the long-term average. Areas in northeastern Australia saw decreases of over 20%, including parts of Queensland, New South Wales (NSW), and Victoria where flooding and precipitation were most concentrated. While these conditions are unusual, this type of analysis dispels the perception that solar energy is always consistent from year to year. It also underscores the need for thorough resource assessments prior to investing in solar projects.
“One year of observations is simply not enough to determine the financial viability of a solar project,” said Dr. Cameron Potter, managing director of 3TIER’s Pacific Rim entity. “Observations covering the past year and its record flooding would not be representative of long-term solar conditions at a site. Therefore, a longer period of reference data is required to gain proper context on seasonal and interannual variability. By integrating both sets of data, we can help drive high performing projects forward, while helping to ensure their financial structure accounts for solar variability risk over the long-term.”
This solar performance analysis is based on 3TIER’s high-resolution global solar dataset, which provides continuous, hourly records of irradiance for 12+ years at any location in the world. The dataset is updated monthly for Australia and most locations worldwide. 3TIER used this dataset to determine long-term average irradiance based on conditions from 1998-2009 and to calculate conditions for December 2010. The resulting map illustrates departures from the long-term average that range from -20% to +20% for global horizontal irradiance – the irradiance type captured by solar PV panels. Direct normal irradiance – the irradiance type captured by solar thermal plants – would have been even more greatly impacted by the anomaly. Solar irradiance values were computed using sophisticated modeling algorithms and over a decade of visible satellite records, a technique that has been successfully validated for accuracy at locations around the world.
For more information on 3TIER and long-term solar assessment, visit www.3tier.com
3TIER helps the global energy market manage renewable energy risk. A pioneer in wind, solar, and hydro generation risk analysis, 3TIER uses weather science to frame the risk of weather-driven variability – anywhere on earth, across all time horizons. With offices serving North America, Europe, India, Latin America, and the Pacific Rim, 3TIER has global reach with products and services spanning renewable energy project feasibility, energy marketing, and asset management. For more information, visit www.3tier.com.
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