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How to import Solargis data into SAM

Solargis is able to provide suitable data files for working in SAM. Hourly data in TMY3 format is required in this case. The user can select which of the main radiation components (global horizontal irradiation, diffuse horizontal irradiation, direct normal irradiation) will be used during the simulation.

These are the steps to import Solargis TMY data into NREL SAM (tested in version SAM 2017 1.17):

  1. Open a new PV project and select “location and resource”
  2. Then select the option “use a specific weather file on disk” and click browse button
  3. In the browse window select the Solargis TMY SAM supported .csv file and click open.
  4. Under Weather File Irradiance Data, select ‘GHI and DHI’ for simulation with Solargis basic data files, and ‘DNI and DHI’ or ‘DNI and GHI’ for simulation with Solargis extended data files

At this stage, you have finished import of meteo data for a specific geographical site and you can start to simulate the energy output.

sam solargis import

Working with ‘basic’ TMY files for simulations in SAM

NREL SAM does not recognize the upload of Solargis standard .csv data format and by default requires TM3 format for the simulation (including DNI parameter). If you have ordered the ‘extended’ Solargis TMY dataset, we would have delivered it also in SAM format along with the Solargis CSV format by default. 

However, we are still helping our customers with the possibility to upload their already purchased Solargis ‘basic’ TMY data (without DNI parameter). If you don’t have your Solargis dataset in TM3 format and you need to run a simulation in SAM, please contact our support team at contact@solargis.com

Once the file is uploaded, you will need to apply the modifications recommend by NREL SAM here and select Global and Diffuse Irradiation components to be used for calculations. By making these changes, the user requests the SAM software to do the PV simulation with global (GHI) and diffused (DIF) irradiation parameters (without DNI).

Structure of TMY3 file format

The TMY3 file format is a comma-delimited text format with the extension .csv that has a different structure from Solargis standard csv files:

  • Row 1 of a TMY3 file stores data describing the location's name, the geographic coordinates, time zone and elevation above sea level data required for sun angle calculations.
  • Row 2 stores the column headings showing units for each data element.
  • Rows 3-8762 store weather data elements used by SAM's performance models. Many of the data elements are not used by the SAM performance models.
  • Please note that opening and saving a TMY3 file in Excel can cause formatting changes that renders the file unreadable by SAM's weather file reader.