At the Intersolar North America trade show, Locus Energy has launched a new tool which uses multiple forms of weather data to provide a new level of accuracy in solar irradiance measurement.
The Virtual Irradiance solar analytics tool will combine NASA satellite data, government weather station data and data from Locus’ network of 40,000 systems which it monitors in North America to provide customers with irradiance data for their location.
The tool provides data for a one square kilometer location anywhere in the continental United States, in fifteen minute intervals. Locus says that it is as accurate as on-site weather sensors over a one-month period.
The tool is primarily marketed for PV operations and maintenance, as this irradiance data can be contrasted with plant performance output to provide insight into causes of under-performance. The biggest unknown is the weather input, says Locus Energy Director of Business Development Gabe Abbot. Once you isolate that out, you can get to the other sources.
Another future application is forecasting solar PV system output. While such data is not required by grid operators in North America, it will become more important as higher levels of PV are integrated into the grid. Abbot says that it expects this to become a requirement for large-scale PV plants in the future.
In the interim, Locus is working with some utilities which have expressed interest in this capability, and says to expect more from the company over the next six months to one year.