The IEA Task 46 "Solar Resource Assessment and Forecasting" provides the solar energy industry, the electricity sector, governments, and renewable energy organizations and institutions with the means to understand the “bankability” of data sets provided by public and private sectors.
At the conclusion of Task 36 “Solar Resource Knowledge Management”, which ended on June 30, 2011, three major objectives were met: 1) 1st order and 2nd order methods for benchmarking of solar resource products with quality data sets were established; 2) a prototype design of a web portal for accessing both public and private data sets was developed following basic protocols of the Global Earth Observational System of Systems (GEOSS), and 3) improved methods for developing data sets, including short-term and long term solar resource forecasting techniques, were developed. Nevertheless the Task participants recognized that all sectors of the solar industry are growing at a significant rate, therefore creating new, stringent data requirements that were not adequately addressed under Task 36. These requirements include ways to characterize the variability of the resource under very short time scales (1-minute or less), the ability to assess the “bankability” of data sets so that financial institutions understand the risks involved in using the data to predict project cash flows, a continuation of the benchmarking of solar resource forecasting methods so that system operators have the appropriate tools for operating utility systems with large penetrations of solar technologies, and advanced methods to estimate solar resources from modern weather satellite imagery, taking into consideration 3-dimensional cloud characteristics and other physical phenomenon.
To address these emerging issues, Task 46 addresses four basic objectives in improving our understanding of solar resources: 1) evaluating solar resource variability that impacts large penetrations of solar technologies; 2) standardizing and integrating procedures for data bankability; 3) improving procedures for short-term solar resource forecasting, and 4) advancing solar resource modeling procedures based on physical principles to provide improve evaluation of large-scale solar systems using both solar thermal as well as PV and solar concentrating technologies.