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Parabolic Trough Technology Solar Resource Data and Tools

Here you'll find resources on solar radiation data and tools for siting parabolic trough power plants. This includes solar radiation data for power plants in the United States and worldwide.

You'll also find resources for direct solar radiation instrumentation.

For an overview on solar resource terms and direct beam radiation used for concentrating solar power technologies, see NREL's Shining On Web site.

U.S. Solar Radiation Resource Data

The following resources include maps, and hourly metrological and solar resource data for parabolic trough power plants sites in the United States.

NREL Concentrating Solar Power Resource Maps

Features direct normal solar radiation maps of the southwestern United States, including state maps for Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada.

NREL Measurement and Instrumentation Data Center

Provides access to a number of irradiance and meteorological data stations. Live data is available from a number of stations across the United States.

NREL Solar Radiation Resource Information

Provides access to extensive solar resource data sets, solar models, solar spectra, publications, and more.

NREL Typical Meteorological Year Data

Provides typical meteorological year (TMY2) data sets derived from the 1961–1990 National Solar Radiation Data Base (NSRDB). The TMY2 data sets represent a "typical" year that is representative of the 30-year period for each NSRDB site.

For each NSRDB site, you can download TMY2 documentation and hourly data sets that include both solar and weather data.

Perez Satellite Solar Resource Data Set

Provides satellite-derived, high-resolution solar radiation data for the United States from 1998–2005. It uses visible channel images from GOES to estimate ground irradiance—a method proven comparable to models using ground-based cloud observations.

The model produces a gridded data set with pixels at 0.1 degree intervals (about 10x10 km) for all 50 states, excluding Alaska north of 60° North latitude and west of 160° West longitude (see Annual Map).

Perez direct normal irradiance (DNI) data is available on NREL's U.S. Atlas of Renewable Resources. Open the 10km/Direct Normal Layer folder.

National Solar Radiation Data Base

Includes a 30-year weather and solar radiation data set for 239 sites across the United States for the period 1960–1990. Note: most of the direct normal solar data is modeled data.

Also, see NREL's Solar Radiation Data for Flat-Plate and Concentrating Collectors.

You can purchase full NSRDB data, including weather data, from the National Climatic Data Center.

International Solar Resource Data

The following resources provide solar resource data for parabolic trough power plant sites around the world.

Solar and Wind Energy Resource Assessment

Provides high-quality renewable energy resource information online for select countries and regions around the world. SWERA also has maps of monthly and annual direct normal irradiance (DNI) and other solar parameters at a 40-km resolution for Africa, South and Central America, China, India, and Southeast Asia.

In addition, hourly modeled data from surface stations, and typical meteorological years (TMYs), are available for select countries, including China, Brazil, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal.

NASA Solar Data Analysis Center

Provides data for concentrating solar power technologies.

NASA Surface Meteorology and Solar Energy

Provides data for concentrating solar power applications based on satellite cloud modeling, which is done on a 100-km spatial resolution. Data are available for any location in the world.

SOLEMI - Solar Energy Mining

Provides high-quality irradiance data for the solar energy community. This service from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) is mainly based on Meteosat-data with a nominal spatial resolution of 2.5 km and half-hourly temporal resolution.

Solar radiation maps and an hourly time series will be available for almost half of the Earth's surface.

Direct Normal Solar Radiation Instrumentation

The following resources provide information on instrumentation to measure direct normal solar radiation for parabolic trough power plants.

University of Oregon - Rotating Shadowband Pyranometer

Offers a low-cost option of measuring solar radiation resources for renewable energy applications.

Historically, pyrheliometers have been used for measuring the direct normal solar beam radiation. For more information, DLR's Web site features a paper on Comparison of Different Methods for Measuring Solar Irradiation Data.

Normal Incidence Pyrheliometer

Provides a traditional approach for measuring the direct normal irradiance (DNI). The Normal Incidence Pyrheliometer (NIP) requires accurate two-axis tracing and frequent cleaning to assure good quality data collection.

Also, see NREL's NIP instrument descriptions and histories.

NREL Metrology Laboratory-Instrument Calibrations

Provides improved confidence in the quality of direct normal irradiance (DNI) measurements. NREL can prove the calibration of instruments against known standards.

NREL Solar Radiation Research Laboratory

Provides a unique outdoor research facility for supporting renewable energy conversion technologies and climate change studies.

For a history of this facility, read 20 Years of Solar Measurements: The Solar Radiation Research