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Improved monitoring and forecasting service for Indian Ocean region

The primary data input used by Solargis for modeling solar irradiation are satellite images. Satellite images are used for modeling solar radiation data for the historic period and also for nowcasting. We, at Solargis, are regularly processing satellite images from 5 geostationary satellites, which together provide imagery for the entire Earth’s surface between 60°N and 60°S latitudes.

The meteorological satellite Meteosat-7, which had been providing satellite imagery for the Indian Ocean region has now been decommissioned. The second generation Meteosat-8 replaces the first generation Meteosat-7 satellite.

We recently implemented real-time processing of satellite images from Meteosat-8. As a result, Solargis users working on projects in the Middle East, South and Central Asia, will benefit from the superior technical features of the Meteosat-8 satellite. Satellite images from the Meteosat-8 satellite will be used for the period beginning 1 Feb 2017.

What has improved with implementation of Metosat-8

Meteosat-8 provides imagery from 12 instead of 3 spectral channels, at a higher resolution and with increased frequency - every 15 minutes instead of every 30 minutes.

In the context of solar resource modeling, it means that we can better capture cloud movements. The accuracy of sub-hourly radiation values and the daily/monthly/yearly sums derived from such time series is expected to improve in tropical areas where fast-changing cloud patterns are common. As the 15-minute data are only available for the recent period, the influence on long-term average values will be negligible. The key beneficiaries will be users who receive regular updates of Solargis data for performance monitoring of operational PV power plants.

Imagery from additional spectral channels will result in improved cloud detection in regions with presence of snow i.e. Himalayan region, Tibet, and large parts of Central Asia.

Real-time processing of satellite images will enable us to offer the following services:

  1. Time series data for performance monitoring purposes can now be delivered with daily updates instead of monthly updates for most of India and surrounding regions. The case for using Solargis data as an alternative to pyranometers becomes even more compelling with this update.
  2. Solargis nowcasting model, based on extrapolation of cloud position for period few hours ahead, is now available also for the Indian Ocean region. The service should in particular help improve the accuracy of forecasts in the tropical climate of South Asia for forecast period 0-5 hour ahead.

What happened to the Meteosat-7 satellite?

Meteosat-7 had been providing crucial inputs for solar resource modeling, initially for Europe and Africa, and later for the Indian Ocean region. The Meteosat-7 had a design lifetime of 5 years but served us for 20 years.

The fuel tank is empty and the instruments on the satellite have been switched off. Earlier this year the satellite was successfully maneuvered to the graveyard orbit, also known as the junk/disposal orbit.

Meteosat 7 and Meteosat 8 solargis blogMeteosat-7’s final image on the left, with an image from Meteosat-8 taken around the same time on the right. Image credit: © EUMETSAT 2017

To learn about how Meteosat-7 was moved to the graveyard orbit, read EUMETSAT’s blog

How to benefit from implementation of Meteosat-8 inputs in Solargis data

Solargis users with an active subscription to Solargis monitoring and forecasting solutions for projects in the Middle East, South, and Central Asia will automatically start benefiting from the improved data service.

The pvSpot online application is now available for the Indian Ocean region. Those who want to see the benefits of Solargis data for performance monitoring can register an account on solargis.info and try pvSpot for free at any 3 locations.

Note: This blog post was initially published on 30 May 2017 and has been slightly updated to represent the current situation with regards to availability of Solargis data services for the Indian Ocean region.

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