Solar energy

The growth of solar energy production and its increasing penetration in the energy mix will require improved climate predictions that better estimate the changes in solar radiation for upcoming months and seasons. This is critical for anticipating solar energy supply, which is needed to facilitate the large-scale integration of solar energy into the broader energy system.

Solar energy users can benefit from climate predictions of solar irradiance, which are helpful to assess the variability of the solar resource over near-future time scales. Solar energy producers have traditionally used weather forecasts from hours to a few days ahead because solar energy production, strongly depends on short-term radiation fluctuations. However, to guide investments and the selection of photovoltaic plants over the longer term, as much as a few decades, the solar industry has become increasingly interested in long-term climate projections.

To cover the information gap between one month and up to a decade into the future, the solar energy sector currently assumes that future conditions will be like those of the past. This approach makes it impossible to anticipate events that, seemingly, have never happened before. Fortunately, it is becoming increasingly possible to use probabilistic sub-seasonal to seasonal forecasts to overcome this limitation by providing additional information for solar energy applications.

Climate predictions are valuable to assess the variability of the solar resource over short-mid term time scales. Early identification of climate-related vulnerabilities has the potential to help the solar energy sector to identify risks and opportunities for energy producers and traders.