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Processing Big Data for the National Solar Radiation Database

January 06, 2020

Challenge

Since its creation in the 1990s, the National Solar Radiation Database (NSRDB) has been the leading public source of high-resolution solar resource data in the United States for use in energy modeling, currently having over 55,000 unique users and more than 245,000 pageviews each year. This database represents the state of the art in satellite-based estimation of solar resource information and uses a unique physics-based modeling approach that enables improvements in accuracy with the deployment of the next-generation geostationary satellites. However, the NSRDB is a significant big data processing challenge with massive requirements, needing compute nodes with high speed and memory. 

Achievement

NREL is leveraging Eagle’s HPC capabilities to help process the NSRDB’s big data requirements. Eagle’s impressive data processing speed and memory strengthen the NSRDB’s mission of making the highest quality, state-of-the-art, regularly updated datasets available on a reasonably timely basis for a variety of users. Down the line, this helps reduce the costs of solar deployment by providing accurate information for siting studies and system output prediction, and thereby reduces levelized cost of electricity. Additionally, the NSRDB enables the integration of high amounts of solar on the grid by providing critical information about solar availability and variability that is used to enhance grid reliability and power quality. Given the NSRDB’s high storage requirements, Eagle’s compute capabilities are invaluable to the effort.

Impact

Powered by NREL’s HPC data processing speed and memory capabilities, the NSRDB continues to be the leading public source of solar resource data.

Read more on the National Solar Radiation Database website.