High-resolution elevation grid for historical solar data

31 March 2020

Terrain Effects on Solar Sites: Latest Improvements

Our team of scientists and engineers are always searching for ways we can improve the accuracy and utility of our solar datasets, and have recently increased the resolution of our elevation grid to 150m2.

The primary input to produce a low uncertainty database for solar resource assessment is the cloud index - a gridded map of cloud thickness. For this critical task, we use the highest possible satellite resolution, a 1-2km grid, with coverage of all continents except Antarctica. We combine the cloud index with aerosol, water vapour, and elevation information to produce gridded irradiance data. You can read more about how we create irradiance data here.

terrainwireframe.png Terrain visualisation using a wireframe elevation grid

In early March of 2020, our team increased the resolution of our elevation grid to 150m2 - you could download data for more than 250 billion different places globally! Elevation is and important input parameter to solar radiation modelling, particularly under clear skies. As the total amount of atmosphere above a given location decreases, the intensity of incident solar irradiance increases. As a result, we have improved the performance of our solar resource database at high altitudes, and in regions where local terrain elevation variability is high.

All solar irradiance data delivered by the API Toolkit now includes high-resolution terrain modeling impacts on the thickness of the atmosphere above a given location (as a function of elevation). For now, we do not apply terrain shading effects to our data, since most users prefer to input their own, site-specific shading horizons in their own PV modelling tool of choice. If user demand is sufficient, we may add an optional “apply terrain shading” button to our data checkout (please let us know if this is of interest to you!)

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Ben King

Ben King

Growth and Projects Manager • Author

Ben is a business driver whose entrepreneurial instincts and adaptive thinking have carried multiple companies through rapid growth. He holds a Bachelor of Business (Finance & Accounting) from the University of Technology Sydney. Ben is passionate about solving complex problems, and is keenly focused on the challenges of increasing the penetration of renewables into the grid.