Vaisala has launched a new tool aimed at helping developers and operators of solar farms to reduce risks associated with solar resource data and the uncertainties of forecasting energy production.

Vaisala’s Solar Time Series tool is a subscription-based service that will help developers to access multiple solar resource datasets as well as reduce the costs and time associated with accessing data.

As margins on solar projects worldwide get tighter, it is increasingly critical that asset owners are able to understand and manage the impact of long-term production variability when undertaking financial planning, Vaisala says. In order to do so, maintaining access to reliable resource data and models is essential.

“Vaisala’s tool provides a straightforward means of quickly assessing the quality of the datasets available for any given site,” said Inaki Herrero Arregui, Country Manager for North America at Enertis Solar. “This is a particular advantage because it allows our team to choose the best resource data for our clients on tight timeframes.”

To date, the industry has either used publically available irradiance datasets based on single models or relied on third-party providers of resource data to carry out evaluation of the available sources. While the number of high-quality datasets available to the industry is steadily growing, each model uses different inputs and methods of irradiance calculation – and therefore carries inherent uncertainty.

Both time series and Typical Meteorological Year (TMY) data can be downloaded directly from the Solar Time Series tool and are delivered within 24 hours. For annual subscribers, the cost per download for each individual time series equates to just $50. Consequently, the tool provides one of the most comprehensive and cost-effective sources of bankable resource data currently on the market.

“High quality resource data is the basis for any solar project assessment,” said Gwendalyn Bender, Solar Energy Assessment Product Manager at Vaisala. “However, to date, it has been seen as something of a luxury – and that has been reflected in pricing and a high tolerance when it comes to model uncertainty.

“With the launch of the Solar Time Series tool, we’re aiming to change that. In the maturing solar sector, reliable data has to be recognized as an essential part of delivering a bankable, investment-grade asset.”