The National Solar Radiation Database (NSRDB) is a serially complete collection of hourly and half-hourly values of meteorological data and the three most common measurements of solar radiation: global horizontal, direct normal and diffuse horizontal irradiance.

It covers the United States and a growing subset of international locations. These data have been collected at a sufficient number of locations and temporal and spatial scales to accurately represent regional solar radiation climates. For a given location covered by the dataset, it is possible to see the amount of solar energy that was at a given time, and to predict the potential future availability of solar energy based on past conditions.

 

Solar system designers, planners, and engineers use NSRDB data to predict the potential solar energy available in a location based on what has been available in the past. This helps to optimize the production for solar installations and reduce the risk for investors. Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL 31437

Solar system designers, planners, and engineers use NSRDB data to predict the potential solar energy available in a location based on what has been available in the past. This helps to optimize the production for solar installations and reduce the risk for investors. Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL 31437

The NSRDB is a serially complete collection of hourly and half-hourly values of the three most common measurements of solar radiation—global horizontal, direct normal, and diffuse horizontal irradiance—and meteorological data. The current NSRDB is modeled using multi-channel measurements from geostationary satellites. The older versions of the NSRDB were modeled using cloud and weather information primarily collected at airports. Sufficient number of locations and temporal and spatial scales were used to represent regional solar radiation climates accurately.

Using the NSRDB data, it is possible to estimate the amount of solar energy that has been historically available at a given time and location anywhere in the United States; the NSRDB is also expanding to encompass a growing list of international locations. Using the long-term NSRDB data in various models, it is possible to predict the potential future availability of solar energy in a location based on past conditions.

Typical Meteorological Year (TMY) data can be derived from the NSRDB time-series datasets. Visit the TMY page for detailed information about this data type and its uses.

The latest addition to the NSRDB is spectral datasets. Spectral datasets are calculated on demand based on user specifications of tilt and orientation. Please visit the Spectral Datasets page for more information.

All NSRDB data was processed using Peregrine system which as of 2019 substituted by Eagle is the newest high-performance computing (HPC) system at NREL.Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL 31717

Compatibility

The NSRDB and TMY data are compatible with many system performance and economic models, including the following products created by NREL:

Contributing Partners

Data collection for the NSRDB is a collaborative effort. Contributors include:

  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory
  • U.S. Department of Energy
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • University of Wisconsin
  • Solar Consulting Services, Colebrook, New Hampshire
  • Atmospheric Sciences Research Center, State University of New York at Albany
  • National Climatic Data Center, U.S. Department of Commerce
  • Solar Radiation Monitoring Laboratory, University of Oregon.