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Do climate models project changes in solar resources?

Huber, Isabelle and Bugliaro, Luca and Ponater, Michael and Garny, Hella and Emde, Claudia and Mayer, Bernhard (2016) Do climate models project changes in solar resources? Solar Energy, 129, pp. 65-84. Elsevier. doi: 10.1016/j.solener.2015.12.016. ISSN 0038-092X.

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Official URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0038092X15006891


In the last two decades much concern has been raised with respect to global dimming and global brightening as a trend in surface solar global irradiance. Surface solar radiation drives various surface processes, like evaporation and photosynthesis, affects surface energy budget and impacts solar energy production technologies and other human activities. In particular, variations of solar resources due to climate change could harm the return of investment for solar energy projects. Therefore, we show a novel method to derive surface direct normal irradiance (DNI) from climate model input data. Since global horizontal (GHI) can be provided simultaneously in a consistent way by our method, this allows to study how projected atmospheric changes may modify GHI and DNI, and hence the output of photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) plants. Starting from a given input data set, we then provide concrete projections of solar resources for the middle of the current century. We perform radiative transfer calculations with atmospheric data produced by global climate models. Cloud data is obtained from the model E39C-A, a derivate of the general circulation model ECHAM4, aerosol data from the coupled aerosol-climate model ECHAM5-HAM. For the treatment of clouds in the radiative transfer model, that require particular care since they strongly modulate surface radiation, we introduced the new concept of effective optical thickness and implemented it into E39C-A. The simulations follow the IPCC SRES A1B scenario which describes a future world of rapid economic growth with a balanced use of renewable and fossil fuel power generation. Our calculations indicate that future (2035–2039) surface irradiances are likely to be reduced compared to past (1995–1999) irradiances mainly in southern and western Africa with a decrease of about �20% in DNI and about �5% in GHI. In Europe and Australia solar radiation is likely to increase by about +10% in DNI and some 1–5% in GHI. We observe nearly no change in North America. Climate change has most likely more impact on DNI than on GHI, CSP projects are hence more affected by climate change than PV ventures. The results from the new method can only be as reliable as the input data are. However, the order of magnitude and regional Patterns of our findings are consistent with a recent study that applies other global climate models in combination with a different method to derive surface irradiances. The input data, which our projections strongly rely on, are plausible to the extent that they are qualitatively consistent with IPCC multi-model results for the same scenario as used here.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/100441/
Document Type:Article
Title:Do climate models project changes in solar resources?
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iDORCID Put Code
Bugliaro, LucaDLR, IPAhttps://orcid.org/0000-0003-4793-0101UNSPECIFIED
Journal or Publication Title:Solar Energy
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:No
Gold Open Access:No
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Page Range:pp. 65-84
Keywords:Solar resources, Climate change, DNI, GHI, Irradiance, Radiative transfer
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space
HGF - Program Themes:Earth Observation
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt
DLR - Program:R EO - Earth Observation
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - Atmospheric and climate research
Location: Oberpfaffenhofen
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Atmospheric Physics > Atmospheric Remote Sensing
Institute of Atmospheric Physics > Earth System Modelling
Deposited By: Bugliaro Goggia, Dr.rer.nat. Luca
Deposited On:04 Dec 2015 06:55
Last Modified:14 Nov 2023 12:54

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