Toward Exploiting and Managing Solar Energy in Concentrated Solar Collectors: Using Models and Computational Strategies to Assess Solar Potential and Hourly Solar Irradiance Data Considering Sky Conditions
The design and operation of concentrated solar thermal collectors, photovoltaic plant, energy storage unit are based on the precise assessment of solar potential and solar radiation data for a selected site. Particularly, direct normal irradiance that used in the long-term evaluation for the techno-economic performance of solar energy conversion systems. In addition to the high cost of instruments used in measuring stations, there is a significant lack of direct normal irradiance data comparing to global and diffuse horizontal irradiance data. To find the proper methods that can contribute to terminating challenges of creating solar databases, this study presented two hierarchical methodologies using different models, empirical correlations, and regression equations. These models and methodologies can be used in estimating hourly solar irradiance data for a selected location using new correlation coefficients and various sky conditions using cloud cover range. Furthermore, the preliminary decision to determine the ability to exploit solar energy technologies was achieved through developing a comprehensive analysis for assessing the potential of solar energy using the solar irradiance data and clearness index. The San Antonio region in Texas was chosen as a paradigm to elucidate the precision of the proposed calculation strategies for estimating hourly direct normal irradiance and monthly average hourly direct normal irradiance data. The obtained results show a significant potential of harnessing solar energy as one of the main energy sources at the selected region and good accuracy of estimated solar data comparing with measured solar data using locally adjusted coefficients and different statistical indicators.