Wednesday, 26 January 2011
Given the anticipated nationwide growth of solar energy applications, which can be attributed to technological advances, falling production costs and increases in the number of state and federal incentives, a detailed understanding of the United States' solar radiation climatology is becoming increasingly more relevant. Though many nationwide and state level studies of solar radiation climatology have been completed, they have been largely limited by the spatial and temporal density of available observations (whether ground or satellite based). The state of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Mesonet, however, provide a unique opportunity to investigate such solar radiation climatology at a much finer scale than has previously been available. The Oklahoma Mesonet represents the world's largest long-term network of solar radiation sensors, consisting of over 115 Li-Cor pyranometer sensors that have reported five minute averages of downwelling radiation data since 1994. Given the unique spatial and temporal density of these measurements, the Mesonet solar radiation data set is ideal for a high-resolution climatology study of the region. Utilizing geostatistical methods, (such as kriging) a fifteen year (1994-2009), high resolution (approximately 50 meters) study is underway. The end goals of this project are two-fold. First, the creation of such a high resolution solar climatology will be extremely useful for many sectors of the state economy (i.e. agriculture, construction, etc.). Secondly, this study will attempt to predict the amount of solar energy that could be harnessed in the state of Oklahoma through the deployment of residential and/or commercial scale solar energy systems (i.e. photovoltaics, parabolic arrays, etc.). The authors hope that this study will influence state lawmakers to impose solar energy incentives throughout the state.
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