As Solar Grows, Solar Data Demand Scales New Highs

Highlights :

  • Solargis, a leading solar data firm makes the case for better and more extensive use of data, as the stakes go higher in solar.
  • Larger projects with larger investments, besides more modern technology and equipment demands better data that can make a difference to final output.
As Solar Grows, Solar Data Demand Scales New Highs

Adoption of high-quality solar resource data for prospecting, evaluation, monitoring and forecasting has increased substantially in 2021 as the global solar PV market has developed. However, there is still a significant amount of untapped value in this data as the industry enters the next phase of its growth in 2022.

This is evidenced by demand witnessed over the past 12 months by the industry leading solar and meteorological data and software provider, Slovakia-based Solargis, whose data has informed the development of over 200GW of solar assets worldwide and is now used for monitoring and forecasting of more than 45GW of projects.

According to the 11 year old Solargis, this uptake indicates an important shift in mindset as solar stakeholders begin to procure high quality solar and weather data as an industry standard. The trend has been witnessed not only in established markets like the US and Europe – driving Solargis to open a new office in Toronto and expand its Bratislava HQ – but also in many emerging markets of America and Asia.

Marcel Suri, Managing Director, Solargis, said: “The growing need for reliable, site-specific data evidences how the solar sector recognises its routine role in efficient evaluation of innovative designs and low-margin financing. As the sector rises up to face evolving resource and weather-related risks, we also observe this acknowledgement of the critical role accurate resource data plays from prospecting through to long-term asset operation.”

However, Solargis warns that significant further investment is needed by the industry in 2022 to address a disparity in the quality and information value of data being procured and the capability of commonly-used software applications. Limitations in standard software approaches are preventing users from getting full value from the datasets in which they are investing.

Most of the data used to inform industry decision-making today takes the form of simplified or ‘degraded’ data sets. This means that a large amount of useful information is locked away and more sophisticated software is needed to allow for optimisation of complex hybrid designs, alongside full consideration of location-specific conditions. This is an industry-wide problem that, moving forwards into the next year, must be addressed.

These challenges include:

  • Increasing frequency of extreme weather poses a challenge to predictability of energy generation and increases risks in valuation of solar assets
  • Assets of increasing capacity, both wind and solar, must be smoothly integrated into electrical grids
  • New technologies such as bifacial and hybrid PV, intelligent trackers and floating PV necessitate new approaches to acquiring and interpreting very high-resolution data.

Marcel continued: “Going into 2022, we need to invest into further improvement and extension of solar and environmental data, and into better software platforms. We are seeing a growing mismatch between the data provided and the tools used to interpret it. Simply put, data today is offering more value than can be exploited using existing software tools and energy evaluation approaches.

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Prasanna Singh

Prasanna has been a media professional for over 20 years. He is the Group Editor of Saur Energy International