What Is the NSRDB?

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. These data have been collected at a sufficient number of locations and temporal and spatial scales to accurately represent regional solar radiation climates.

Using these data, it's possible to see the amount of solar energy that was 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 data in models, it's possible to predict the potential future availability of solar energy in a location based on past conditions.

The primary type of data derived from the NSRDB is called Typical Meteorological Year (TMY). Visit the TMY page for detailed information about this data type and its uses.

All NSRDB data is processed using Peregrine—the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's high performance computer. Peregrine is capable of 1.19 million billion calculations per second, making it possible to process the enormous amount of data the NSRDB collects each day. 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.