NSRDB Comparison

Compare Solcast historical and TMY products to NSRDB
Historical and Tmy

Solcast vs NREL NSRDB

The NREL NSRDB is a specification-limited free source of medium-quality global satellite-derived irradiance data, with a regional focus on North America, which provides data that ends between 2019 and 2021, depending on the region. The NSRDB database is free-to-access but has fewer features, limited spatio-temporal coverage, and higher uncertainty when compared with Solcast data.

About NREL NSRDB

The NSRB (National Solar Radiation Database) is a dataset created by NREL (the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory). The dataset, which runs through to the end of 2019 to 2021 (depending on the region), has a particular focus on North America, with data available for other regions with lower specifications.

Data Features and Capabilities

Solcast NSRDB
Free trial with instant access and data download?
Price point $$ Free
Download wait time <1-30 seconds 5 minutes to several hours
Comprehensive, global, independent validation
Validation Sites 46 9 (USA only)
Satellite based estimation
Global Coverage
Resolution of satellite data used 1-2 km 4 km
15+ years of satellite data at full temporal resolution
Ignores older, less reliable satellites

Source: Evaluation of the National Solar Radiation Database (NSRDB Version 2): 1998–2015

Inputs and Algorithms

The NSRDB and Solcast methodology is relatively similar. Both are semi-empirical and are satellite-derived. Both rely on validated, published models to build a clear sky model, and use proprietary cloud detection. The NSRDB cloud model has a lower resolution than the Solcast model, based around a 2-10 km grid, compared to Solcast’s 1-2km. Solcast irradiance and PV power data is then downscaled to 90 metres. Solcast has real-time data available, whereas NSRDB ends in 2019 to 2021 (depending on region). The NSRDB coverage begins between 1998 and 2017, and ends between 2019 and 2021, depending on the region. For some regions, this temporal coverage is insufficient for sampling interannual variability and production of long term averages. In other regions, including North America, NSRDB uses data from lower-resolution, pre-21st century satellites. Solcast only uses data from recent generation geostationary meteorological satellites (GMS). We do not use data prior to 2007 due to climate change and satellite data quality issues. This maximises data quality and validity, while still providing 15+ years of data history from which to sample for interannual variability.

Validation and Accuracy

Meta analysis of North American validation results: GHI results

Solcast NSRDB NSRDB
Performed by DNV IEA PVPS Yang & Bright 2020
Year published 2023 2023 2020
No. of sites 38 28 15
Mean Bias +0.77% +0.86% +2.00%
Bias Std. Dev. ±1.40% ±4.05% ±3.91%
Mean nMAD (nMAE) 9.38% 12.83% Not Published
Mean nRMSD (nRMSE) 14.75% 18.13% 20.29%

Meta analysis of North American validation results: DNI results

NSRDB and Solcast are both independently validated, globally, NSRDB at 70 sites and Solcast at 207 sites.

Solcast NSRDB
Performed by DNV IEA PVPS
Year published 2023 2023
No. of sites 22 28
Mean Bias +0.85% +7.34%
Bias Std. Dev. ±3.32% ±7.43%
Mean nMAD (nMAE) 20.01% 22.05%
Mean nRMSD (nRMSE) 32.44% 33.27%

References

Yang, D., 2018. A correct validation of the national solar radiation data base (NSRDB). Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 97, pp.152-155.
Yang, D. and Bright, J.M., 2020. Worldwide validation of 8 satellite-derived and reanalysis solar radiation products: A preliminary evaluation and overall metrics for hourly data over 27 years. Solar Energy, 210, pp.3-19.
Forstinger, A., et al. (2023). Worldwide benchmark of modelled solar irradiance data (2023 PVPS Task 16): Solar resource for high penetration and large-scale applications. ResearchGate.
Cuevas-Agulló, E., et al. (2023). A new global high-resolution solar resource dataset. Zenodo

Historic Data Products

Time Series
The complete suite of irradiance and weather data required for effective monitoring, operation, and forecasting at your large-scale solar farm.
Typical Meteorological Year (TMY)
The complete suite of irradiance and weather data required for effective monitoring, operation, and forecasting at your large-scale solar farm.