Related Research Areas
Climate Variability & Change

Considering the likelihood of global climate change and the global competition for energy resources, the nation requires policies, plans and technological advances to better integrate renewable energy sources into traditional energy grid systems. Solar energy technologies are becoming increasingly available and cost effective, however the increased use of solar energy on a large scale will require better integration of solar and related information into energy planning tools. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is a leader in developing solar resource information for the U.S. and various regions around the world, and in developing and applying decision support tools for assessing the cost-effectiveness of integrating solar energy into the nation’s energy supply. However, NREL does not have advanced global solar mapping tools for improved depiction of historical solar resources and variability, and to provide a mechanism for continual updates of solar resource information. NASA Langley Research Center, in collaboration with NREL and the State University of New York/Albany proposes to develop such a satellite based mapping tool from NASA Earth Science project algorithms and data sets for NREL needs. Thus, NREL gains the capability to continually update global solar radiation necessary for future integration into the national energy portfolio. These efforts would be consistent with the requirements set forth in Section 201 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. This proposal aims to produce and evaluate an enhanced long-term solar resource data set; transition this processing and data dissemination capability to NREL; and use the data sets to address the needs of decision support tools (i.e., NREL’s National Solar Radiation Data Base, Solar Advisor In My Back Yard, and other tools). The use of improved solar resource information for these tools will be evaluated with respect to solar energy technologies a) improving energy efficiencies through solar technologies for stand alone and buildings solar systems, b) providing information regarding distributed power generation and c) improvements for policy-related energy market scenario investigations. Finally, the proposal provides for a transition of the algorithms using the NASA data sets and algorithms to NREL, ensuring the repeatability of the satellite-based retrieval process and providing for continual production of solar resource data sets into the future. Thus, this project addresses NREL’s need to continually update and provide independent accurate solar resource information while assessing this information for use in issues related to climate change adaptation and mitigation for the nation and the world.

Project PI: Paul Stackhouse/NASA Langley Research Center

NASA Langley Research Center, 21 Langley Blvd, MS. 420 Hampton, VA 23681 United States

Phone: (757)864-5368



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Started: Sep 27, 2010

Last Activity: Dec 16, 2010


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