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The Australian National University

Solar radiation measurement

Canberra has the highest per capita solar electricity production of any state and territory, and the infrastructure and social fabric to become a model for very high penetration of solar electricity. A critical impediment to fully realising this potential is the ability to accurately measure and forecast solar radiation on a range of spatial scales, including a single point and a suburb.

Jointly with research groups from the CMBE (ANU College of Medicine, Biology and Environment) and the CPMS (ANU College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences) we are deploying solar monitoring equipment co-located with monitored PV systems and distributed across the ANU campus (a suburb).

Detailed studies of solar radiation and 'first-principles' methods for forecasting solar energy production require more information than can be derived from the total solar irradiance in the plane of a PV array. Highly accurate measurements of the direct normal irradiance (DNI) and the diffuse (DIFF) irradiance (scattered light) are being implemented. The former is measured using DNI pyrheliometers. The latter is most commonly determined by subtracting the measured DNI irradiance from global horizontal irradiance (GHI), as measured by a GHI pyranometer. This is what BoM does at its solar monitoring stations. For highest accuracy, we measure DIFF directly using a GHI pyranometer that is partially shaded so it does not receive DNI. This provides three independent measurements of two physical quantities. PV arrays are sensitive to total irradiance, but solar concentrator systems are sensitive only to DNI. Hence, multiple 'solar measurement stations' across campus to measure DNI and DIFF are needed to quantify the effects of clouds and for developing and testing 'first-principles' solar energy forecasts.

The purpose of this research project is twofold:

  • Collect solar radiation data required to research, develop, and test techniques for forecasting solar energy production.
  • Monitor real performance of commercial, prototype and emerging solar energy technologies, and correlate it to solar radiation and other meteorological data.

Updated:  6 June 2012 / Responsible Officer:  JavaScript must be enabled to display this email address. / Page Contact:  JavaScript must be enabled to display this email address. / Powered by: Snorkel 1.4