By Isabella Kaminski
3TIER, which analyses renewable energy risk, has created a solar performance map of Australia which it says illustrates a substantial drop in the country’s solar resource during December 2010. According to 3TIER, this anomaly correlates with the widespread flooding in Australia during January 2011.
The Australia solar performance analysis shows that during December 2010 large parts of the country saw a 5-15% decrease in solar irradiance compared to the long-term average. Areas in Northeastern Australia saw decreases of over 20%, including parts of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria where flooding and rain were most concentrated.
3TIER says this type of analysis dispels the perception that solar energy is always consistent from year to year. and demonstrates the importance of using long-term reference data for determining solar project feasibility.
Dr Cameron Potter, Managing Director of 3TIER’s Pacific Rim entity, says: “One year of observations is simply not enough to determine the financial viability of a solar project. Observations covering the past year and its record flooding would not be representative of long-term solar conditions at a site. Therefore, a longer period of reference data is required to gain proper context on seasonal and interannual variability.”
The solar performance analysis is based on 3TIER’s high-resolution global solar dataset, which provides continuous, hourly records of irradiance.