Title

It Isn’t Always Cloudy in the Northwestern United States: Characterizing the Solar Energy Resource and Short-term Irradiance Variability in Relation to Weather and Climate

Presenter

Nevin Schaeffer

Abstract

Two barriers limiting the widespread implementation of commercial solar energy generation plants throughout the nation are the solar energy resource of a location and the short-term variability of solar energy caused by inhomogeneous cloud cover. Short-term variability of solar energy can lead to increased costs associated with integration into the electrical grid if the minute-to-minute fluctuations of power output are not predicted accurately. Often disregarded in discussions of solar power generation due to its high latitude and frequent cloud cover, the Northwestern United States in fact sustains a yearly averaged solar resource akin to that of Tampa, Florida. In addition to assessing the solar resource of the region, the short-term variability of five sites located from Western Oregon to Southwestern Montana was analyzed in conjunction with weather and climate data to explore the relationship between cloudiness and short-term variability of solar power.

Faculty Sponsor

Kurt Hoffman and Barry Balof

Sponsor Department/Programs

Geology

Tracks

Geology and Climate

Terms of Use

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Location

Science 159

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

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It Isn’t Always Cloudy in the Northwestern United States: Characterizing the Solar Energy Resource and Short-term Irradiance Variability in Relation to Weather and Climate

Science 159

Two barriers limiting the widespread implementation of commercial solar energy generation plants throughout the nation are the solar energy resource of a location and the short-term variability of solar energy caused by inhomogeneous cloud cover. Short-term variability of solar energy can lead to increased costs associated with integration into the electrical grid if the minute-to-minute fluctuations of power output are not predicted accurately. Often disregarded in discussions of solar power generation due to its high latitude and frequent cloud cover, the Northwestern United States in fact sustains a yearly averaged solar resource akin to that of Tampa, Florida. In addition to assessing the solar resource of the region, the short-term variability of five sites located from Western Oregon to Southwestern Montana was analyzed in conjunction with weather and climate data to explore the relationship between cloudiness and short-term variability of solar power.

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