How accurate are the Solar Prospecting Tools?
The Solar Prospecting Tools are based on +10 year means (1997/1999 – 2010) from our Version 1.0 of the solar dataset created by Vaisala, then 3TIER. The uncertainty ranges shown in the tools are determined by the global validation study we completed at the time the tools were released, see below for a link to the paper. At the time the dataset was as accurate as anything else available and in many places much better than previous sources. But since 2010 we have continued to develop our algorithms and subsequent versions, such as can be found in the Solar Time Series, are more accurate. However, these tools are still useful in comparing different locations to each other as the absolute values may change with later versions but the ranking of sites will stay the same.
As part of our processing, we regularly update our global validation studies. This is the validation study that corresponds to the data in the Solar Prospecting Tools. Find Solar Prospecting Tools validation here.
Note that in some areas with highly reflective terrain, such as salt flats and some areas with permanent snow, the satellite algorithms have difficulty distinguishing clouds from the terrain. As a result, the cloudiness estimates in these areas are higher than they should be, thus the amount of global horizontal and direct normal irradiance is underestimated and the diffuse radiation in these areas is overestimated. Known areas affected by this problem include the Bonneville Salt Flats on the Nevada-Utah border and the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
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