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INTERANNUAL VARIABILITY OF LONG TIME SERIES OF DNI AND GHI AT PSA, SPAIN

D. Pozo Vzquez , S. Wilbert , C.A. Gueymard , L. Alados-Arboledas , F. J. Santos-Alamillos , M.J. Granados-Muoz


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Dep. of Physics, University of Jan, Campus Lagunillas, 23071, Jan (Spain), +34 953 21783, dpozo@ujaen.es
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DLR, Plataforma Solar de Almera (PSA), 04200, Tabernas (Spain), stefan.wilbert@dlr.de

Solar Consulting Services, P.O. Box 392, Colebrook, NH 03576, USA, Chris@SolarConsultingServices.com
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Dep. Fsica Aplicada, Univ. de Granada, Fuentenueva s/n, 18071, Granada (Spain). alados@ugr.es

Abstract In this work, we analyze the interannual variability of long time series (20012010) of solar irradiance components recorded at DLRs radiometric station of the Plataforma Solar de Almera (Spain). In a first part, a statistical characterization of the interannual variability is carried out. In a second part, the relative roles of cloud fraction (CF) and aerosol optical depth (AOD) in this interannual variability are evaluated. Substantial interannual variability in the irradiance values is found. In particular, the direct normal irradiance (DNI) is affected by a period-average standard deviation of 6%, with annual excursions reaching up to 16%. On a seasonal basis, winter and spring present the highest interannual variability, followed by autumn. AOD and CF are found to a have a clear and strong effect on the DNI interannual variability, but with a marked seasonal difference. Finally, the relationship between the AOD and CF variability is found quite complex. Particularly, results show that the atmospheric circulation patterns associated with the AOD and CF interannual variability differ substantially. Consequently, the relative effects of AOD and CF on DNI can compensate or reinforce each other, depending on the atmospheric circulation pattern during a specific year. The most important DNI anomalies are observed in the latter case. Keywords: DNI, interannual variability, PSA, AOD, clouds. 1. Introduction Accurate resource evaluation is a key issue in the first stages of any renewable energy project. Particularly, as the life span of solar power plants is about 20 years, the economic feasibility study of such projects must take the interannual variability of the resource into account. Usually, the resource evaluation is partly based on field measurements collected at local weather stations. Due to their cost, typically only a few months or years of data are available to prepare a resource assessment report. Such a short measurement period does not provide sufficient information on the natural variability of the resource. Therefore, additional studies, usually based on satellite-based modeled data, are necessary for a reliable resource evaluation. In most cases, both methods are actually used in conjunction. Unfortunately, significant biases in satellite-based estimates, especially of DNI have recently been reported [1, 2]. The interannual variability in solar radiation is mainly caused by changes in cloudiness and aerosol loading, themselves driven by changes in regional atmospheric circulation patterns [3-7]. High-quality records of measured DNI spanning long periods are scarce. Nevertheless, a detailed analysis of such records may help understand the dynamics of the solar resource variability better, particularly over areas of interest for CSP. Similarly, a comparison of long records of DNI and AOD at sunny sites can provide important information on the relationship between the temporal variability in DNI and that in AOD [8]. This study consists in an analysis of the interannual variability of long time series of DNI and Global Horizontal Irradiance (GHI) recorded at DLRs radiometric station of the Plataforma Solar de Almera (PSA) in southeastern Spain (Fig. 1). A statistical characterization of the interannual irradiance variability is carried out first. In a second part, the relative roles of clouds and aerosols in this variability are evaluated. To this end, atmospheric reanalysis and satellite estimates of cloud cover and aerosol load are employed. The aim of this contribution is to offer a better understanding of the solar resource in the study region and, by extension, a better estimate of the expected interannual variability in the output of solar power plants in the Mediterranean region.

2. Data and methods The PSA radiometric dataset used here spans the period February 2001 to December 2010, and consists of measurements with a first-class pyrheliometer and secondary standard pyranometers as defined in ISO 9060 [9]. Data gaps are reduced to a minimum by filling them with independent data from Rotating Shadowband Pyranometers (RSPs). Such data use a posteriori spectral, temperature and air-mass corrections. In addition to the radiometric variables just described, air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, wind direction and air pressure were measured during most of the period 20012010. In 2010, a pyrgeometer and a CIMEL sun photometer [10] were installed, as well as an all-sky imager, to document the state of the sky during measurements. Intensive maintenance, including cleaning of the sensors every working day, guarantees the high quality of the data. The initial 1-minute resolution was reduced to daily-integrated values for this study. Based on these daily values, monthly mean values were computed. Then, the monthly percent anomalies were obtained based on the long-term (20012010) monthly means. (This step removed the deterministic cycles.) Finally, seasonal and annual mean values were computed, based on the monthly anomaly values. Seasons are defined as follows: winter (DecemberFebruary), spring (MarchMay), summer (JuneAugust), and fall (SeptemberNovember). Other sources of data must be considered to study the effects of clouds and aerosols. First, the cloud fraction (CF) and sea level pressure (SLP) for the Mediterranean and north Atlantic region were obtained from the ERA-interim reanalysis dataset [11] at a spatial resolution of 0.5x0.5, and for the same period as used for the irradiance data. Moreover, the atmospheric aerosol load was derived from MODIS data [12]. In particular, the AOD at 550 nm was obtained over the period 20012009 for the study region, with a spatial resolution of 11. Monthly, seasonal and annual anomalies of CF, SLP and AOD were obtained, based on a similar procedure as that described above for the solar irradiance data.

Fig. 1. DLRs radiometric station at the Plataforma Solar de Almera. 3. Analysis 3.1 Statistical characterization of the interannual variability In this section, a statistical characterization of the interannual variability in GHI, DNI, AOD and CF data is carried out. Figure 2 shows the annual anomalies of these quantities. A substantial variability in irradiance values is clearly observed, particularly for DNI. Notably, the sign of the anomalies frequently changes from one year to the next. This is particularly the case in 20052006, when the DNI anomaly abruptly changed from +8% to -8%. The CF interannual variability is even larger than that of DNI. For instance, the change in CF reached 25% between 2005 and 2006. Similarly, the change in AOD reached 16% between 2008 and 2009. Interestingly, the AOD and CF anomalies are not significantly correlated (R=0.35). There are years when the anomalies in CF and AOD have the same sign (2006) and other years when they have opposite signs (e.g., 2001). This will be further analyzed in section 3.2. Table 1 presents a summary of different statistics (minimum, maximum and standard deviation) representative of the interannual variability in GHI, DNI, AOD and CF. The variability in DNI is clearly higher than that in GHI. Winter and spring are the seasons with the highest interannual variability, followed by autumn. Notably, winter DNI anomalies reach a minimum of -35% and a maximum of 46%. As discussed further in the next section, this variability is directly related to the marked cloudiness variability in the study region during that season. At annual time scales, the compensating effect among seasons reduces the variability considerably (to a minimum of -7% and a maximum of +6%). Note the marked interannual variability in AOD and CF. The variability in AOD is especially significant during autumn, whereas that in CF is significant dur-

ing spring and summer. Additionally, Fig. 3 displays the monthly irradiance anomaly time series along with their corresponding 12-month moving average. There is no evidence of long-term trends in the data. Some low-frequency variability can be observed, however, such as a two-year cycle in 2005-2006.

Fig. 2. Annual anomalies (in percent) of GHI, DNI, CF and AOD at the PSA station. All anomalies are computed relatively to the 20012010 long-term mean, except for AOD (20012009).
Season Statistic (%) Winter Spring Summer Autumn Annual Min -19 -20 -6 -13 -4 GHI Max 22 12 5 12 5 SD 10 8 3 6 3 Min -35 -39 -15 -28 -8 DNI Max 46 27 15 21 8 SD 19 18 8 14 6 Min -28 -38 -25 -35 -11 AOD Max 76 54 50 77 8 SD 25 21 16 26 6 Min -50 -41 -54 -40 -9 CF Max 57 62 47 48 15 SD 25 28 27 23 9

Table 1. Seasonal and annual minimum, maximum and standard deviations of GHI, DNI, AOD and CF at PSA, in percent of the long-term mean.

Fig. 3. Monthly time series of the GHI and DNI anomalies (in percent) at PSA. 12-month moving averages are displayed as thick lines.

Other characteristics of these time series are further presented in Fig. 4, which shows the wavelet spectrum analysis [13] of GHI, DNI, AOD and CF. As could be expected, a non-stationary behavior of the spectra is clearly observed. In other words, there is no evidence of a single persistent temporal mode of variability during the test period. Notably, for both GHI and DNI, statistically significant oscillations are found with periods in the range 26 months from mid-2005 to mid-2008, and periods in the range 2030 months from 2003 to 2006. This latter oscillation is clearly observed in Fig. 3. Based on the simple comparison between the wavelet spectrum of the solar irradiance data and that for the AOD and CF data, some conclusions can be derived. Particularly, the low-frequency oscillation of GHI and DNI with a period of 20-30 months seems mainly related to the CF variability, since this variable simultaneously shows a similar oscillation. In contrast, the GHI and DNI oscillations with periods of 26 months seem associated with the variability in both CF and AOD. For instance, the variability around 2006 seems caused by the combined effects of CF and AOD, considering their significant signal at that time. Conversely, the variability in DNI and GHI during 2008 seems associated only with the AOD variability, since the CF signal is particularly weak at that time.

Fig. 4. Wavelet power spectra of GHI (top left), DNI (top right), AOD (bottom left) and CF (bottom right). The spectral properties are displayed as a function of period and time. Shaded contours are at normalized variances 2, 5 and 10. Regions of >95% confidence level are marked with a thick contour. Regions below the thick diagonal lines at both ends indicate where the edge effects due to the finite length of the series are important, and where results are thus unreliable. 3.2 Causation of the interannual variability in DNI Following the statistical analysis of interannual variability in GHI, DNI, AOD and CF from the previous section, the causes of this variability are investigated here. To this end, the correlation between solar irradiance and the AOD and CF time series is evaluated. Results for the different seasons of the year are presented in Tables 24. These results show a marked seasonal difference in the relationship between solar irradiance and the variability in AOD or CF. In summer (Table 2), AOD and CF seem to equally affect the DNI variability, considering their similar (negative) correlation coefficients (-0.67 and -0.63 for AOD and CF, respectively). Interestingly, the correlation between AOD and CF is then modest (R=0.37), suggesting that the atmospheric circulation patterns associated with their variability are substantially different.

In autumn (Table 2), the correlation between the AOD and DNI time series is similar to those found for summer, while the correlation between CF and DNI is substantially higher (-0.79). Again, the correlation between AOD and CF is low (R=0.29). During winter (Table 3), CF plays a much more important role than AOD at explaining the DNI variability (correlation coefficients are -0.85 and -0.19 for CF and AOD, respectively). The correlation between AOD and CF is again low (R=0.24). The highest correlation coefficients are found for spring (Table 3). For instance, these coefficients are -0.70 and -0.89 between DNI and AOD and CF, respectively. Therefore, this is the period of the year when the origins of the interannual variability in GHI and DNI can be best explained at PSA. A multiple regression analysis (not presented) reveals that the two variables combined can explain 85% of the interannual variability in DNI during that season. In addition, the correlation between AOD and CF is now relatively high (R=0.57). The annual summary results (Table 4) indicate a smoothed-out combination of the results for the different seasons in Tables 23, as could be expected. Notably, CF has a larger effect on DNI than AOD (R=-0.77 versus -0.50). The correlation between AOD and CF is low (R=0.35).
Season Variable GHI DNI AOD CF Summer DNI AOD 0.91 -0.46 1.00 -0.67 -0.67 1.00 -0.63 0.37 Autumn DNI AOD 0.95 -0.47 1.00 -0.63 -0.63 1.00 -0.79 -0.29

GHI 1.00 0.91 -0.46 -0.58

CF -0.58 -0.63 0.37 1.00

GHI 1.00 0.95 -0.47 -0.80

CF -0.80 -0.79 0.29 1.00

Table 2. Correlation values between the solar irradiance, the CF and AOD time series for the summer and autumn months. Only values above 0.25 (in absolute value) are statistically significant at 95% confidence level.
Season Variable GHI DNI AOD CF Winter AOD -0.22 -0.19 1.00 0.24 Spring DNI AOD 0.96 -0.60 1.00 -0.70 -0.70 1.00 -0.89 0.57

GHI 1.00 0.97 -0.22 -0.85

DNI 0.97 1.00 -0.19 -0.85

CF -0.85 -0.85 0.24 1.00

GHI 1.00 0.96 -0.60 -0.82

CF -0.82 -0.89 0.57 1.00

Table 3. Same as Table 2, but for the winter and spring months.
Variable GHI DNI AOD CF GHI 1.00 0.95 -0.41 -0.74 DNI 0.95 1.00 -0.50 -0.77 AOD -0.41 -0.50 1.00 0.35 CF -0.74 -0.77 0.35 1.00

Table 4. Same as Table 2, but on an annual basis. From the results in Tables 24, it can be concluded that both AOD and CF have clear and strong effects on DNIs interannual variability, albeit with marked seasonal overtones. In addition, the relationship between the variability in AOD and that in CF appears complex. For instance, Fig. 2 presents years (2005 and 2006) during which both the AOD and CF anomalies have the same sign. This leads to large DNI anomalies (+8% and -8% for 2005 and 2006, respectively). On the other hand, during 2001, the AOD anomaly is high and positive (+8%) while the CF anomaly is negative (-4%). As a consequence, the DNI anomaly is then only slightly negative (about -4%). Therefore, it can be argued that: (i) the atmospheric circulations patterns governing the variability in AOD and CF are substantially different from each other, and are not always in phase; and (ii) depending on the specific atmospheric circulation pattern during a specific year, the respective effects of AOD and CF on DNI can balance out or reinforce each other. To investigate the latter point further, two additional analyses have been conducted. First, the three years with the highest positive or negative DNI, CF and AOD anomalies have been searched. A composite of the SLP anomalies associated with these two sets of three years has been constructed for a large region around PSA (Fig. 5). As expected, the SLP patterns associated with the different variables are different. For instance, the highest positive DNI anomalies are associated with a positive SLP anomaly centered near the northwest corner of the Iberian Peninsula (Fig. 5a). This SLP pattern is associated with a pronounced northeast circulation over the study area. This kind of SLP anomaly results in a blocking of the synoptic front originating

from the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, in turn reducing cloudiness over the study area. This pattern is similar (but not exactly the same) as that associated with the lowest negative CF anomalies (Fig 5e). In contrast, the SLP patterns associated with the largest AOD anomalies are substantially different. Positive AOD anomalies (Fig. 5c) are associated with positive SLP anomalies whose centers extend over Central Europe and the central Mediterranean area. At PSA, this results in a specific southeastern circulation, bringing more aerosols from North Africa.

Fig. 5. Yearly composite of the SLP anomalies associated with the three highest positive anomalies of a) DNI, b) CF, and c0 AOD, and the three highest negative anomalies of d) DNI, e) CF, and f) AOD at PSA. Values are in percent of the long-term mean. 3.3 Impact on DNI of aerosols from the Sahara The effect of Saharan dust intrusions over PSA has been further studied, using satellite imagery and other means. Figure 6 shows an example of the crucial modulating role that such dust events have on AOD and DNI. On the left-hand side, the aerosol optical depth (AOD) at 550 nm and the ngstrm exponent, , both measured at the Granada Aeronet station (125 km west of PSA), are shown for September and October 2008. Strong daily changes in the aerosol load are clearly identified. The actual measured DNI at PSA and the clear-sky DNI modeled with REST2 [14] using Granadas AOD conditions are depicted on the right-hand side of Fig. 6 for a sequence of four days (69 Sep. 2008) during which AOD varied dramatically. (AOD was not measured at PSA then.) A good agreement is found between the modeled and measured data despite the distance between Granada and PSA. The aerosol field is more homogeneous spatially than the cloud field, which explains the stronger differences in modeled vs. measured DNI during partly cloudy days than during clear days. The known Saharan dust intrusion that occurred on Sep. 9 explains the severe reduction in DNI during that day (of 50% at noon compared to Sep. 6). In a second analysis, the SLP anomalies during the years 2001, 2005 and 2006 have been obtained (Fig. 7). The year 2006 is representative of circumstances during which the effects of CF and AOD on the DNI variability reinforce each other, thus resulting in a large and negative DNI anomaly (-8%). As can be observed in Fig. 7c, the SLP anomaly pattern during 2006 is a combination of those presented in Fig. 5b and 5c, corresponding to large CF and AOD anomalies, respectively. Therefore, the atmospheric circulation during that year favored the build-up of more clouds and aerosols than normal over PSA. By comparing Fig. 7b (for 2005) with Figs. 5e and 5f, similar conclusions can be derived. On the other hand, the year 2001 is representative of the opposite situation compared to 2006: the atmospheric circulation patterns resulted in a compensation of the respective effects of AOD and CF on DNI. Note, in particular, that the SLP anomaly patterns in Fig. 7a resemble those in Fig. 5c, which were associated with positive AOD anomalies. But, at the same time, they also resemble the patterns in Fig. 5e, which were associated with negative CF anomalies. This results in both a larger AOD and a lower CF over the study area and, therefore, in a compensating effect. Consequently, the DNI anomaly was relatively low during 2001 (about -4%).

9/09

Fig. 6. Left: Aerosol optical depth (AOD) and ngstrm exponent ( ) for September and October 2008 at Granada. Right: Clear-sky modeled (blue dots) and all-sky measured (continuous brown line) DNI at PSA for four days, 69 September 2008.
a) 2001 b) 2005 c) 2006

Fig. 7. SLP yearly anomalies (in percent of the long-term mean) during 2001, 2005 and 2006. 4. Conclusion This work reports a statistical analysis of the interannual variability of long time series (20012010) of solar irradiance (DNI and GHI) recorded at PSA by DLRs radiometric station. The relative impacts of clouds and aerosols on the irradiance variability have been evaluated, using atmospheric reanalysis and satellite estimates of CF and AOD on a seasonal and annual basis. The interannual variability in irradiance is found substantial, particularly for DNI (standard deviation 6%). Whereas DNI was anomalously high in 2005, it became anomalously low in 2006, creating a 16% year-toyear variation. Winter and spring are the seasons associated with the highest interannual DNI variability, followed by autumn. Notably, the DNI anomalies reach a minimum of -35% and a maximum of 46% in winter, when the interannual CF variability is also high in the region. At annual time scales, the compensating effect among seasons considerably reduces this variability, resulting in annual anomalies ranging from -7% to +6%. AOD and CF have a higher interannual variability than DNI. A wavelet spectral analysis of both DNI and GHI shows statistically significant oscillations, with periods of varying duration. It is found that AOD and CF have a clear and strong influence on the interannual variability in DNI, albeit with a marked seasonality. Whereas during spring and summer AOD and CF affect the DNI variability in similar ways, the role of CF is found slightly more important than that of AOD in autumn, and much more important in winter. On an annual basis, CF plays a more important role than AOD. Finally, the relationship between the variability in AOD and that in CF is found quite complex. Most importantly, it is shown that the atmospheric circulations patterns associated with the variability in AOD and

CF are substantially different. Thus, depending on the specific atmospheric circulation pattern in a given year, the effect of AOD and CF on DNI can compensate or reinforce each other. Obviously, the largest DNI anomalies are observed in the latter case. The preliminary results presented here should help evaluate the interannual solar resource variability over the western Mediterranean region. For a precise evaluation of this variability over such a large region, long series of radiometric data from other stations will certainly be required. Acknowledgements This study was financed by the Consejera de Innovacin, Ciencia y Empresa (CICE) of the Junta de Andaluca (Spain) (Project P07-RNM-02872) and FEDER funds. This work has been also supported by the Junta de Andaluca research group TEP-220. The authors also would like to thank the Computing and Scientific Center of Andalusia (CICA) for help with computational aspects. References [1]. Suri M. et al. (2009). Comparison of direct normal irradiation maps for Europe. Proc. SolarPACES Conf. Berlin, Germany. [2]. Gueymard C.A. (2011) Uncertainties in modeled direct irradiance around the Sahara as affected by aerosols: Are current datasets of bankable quality? J. Sol. Energ-T. ASME 133, 031024. [3]. Pozo-Vzquez D. et al. (2004). NAO and solar radiation variability in the European North Atlantic region. Geophys. Res. Lett. 31 (5), doi:10.1029/2003GL018502. [4] Lohmann S. et al. (2006). Long-term variability of solar direct and global radiation derived from ISCCP data and comparison with reanalysis data. Solar Energy 80, 1390-1401. [5] Sanchez-Lorenzo A. et al. (2009). Dimming/brightening over the Iberian Peninsula: trends in sunshine duration and cloud cover and their relations with atmospheric circulation. J. Geophys. Res. 114, D00D09, doi:10.1029/2008JD011394. [6] Chiacchio M. and Wild M. (2010). Influence of NAO and clouds on long-term seasonal variations of surface solar radiation in Europe. J. Geophys. Res. 115, D00D22, doi:10.1029/2009JD012182. [7] Pozo-Vzquez D. et al. (2011). The Impact of the NAO on the Solar and Wind Energy Resources in the Mediterranean Area. Hydrological, Socioeconomic and Ecological Impacts of the North Atlantic Oscillation in the Mediterranean Region. Vicente-Serrano S. and Trigo R., eds., Springer. [8]. Gueymard C.A. (2011) Irradiance variability and its dependence on aerosols. Proc. SolarPACES Conf. Granada, Spain (this conference). [9] ISO (1990). Solar energy Specification and classification of instruments for measuring hemispherical solar and direct solar radiation. Standard 9060, Geneva, Switzerland. [10] Holben, B. et al. (1998). AERONET-A federated instrument network and data archive for aerosol characterization. Remote Sens. Environ. 66(1): 1-16. [11] Simmons A. et al. (2007). ERA-I: New ECMWF reanalysis products from1989 onwards, ECMWF Newsletter, 110, 2535. [12] Savtchenko A. et al. (2004). Terra and Aqua MODIS products available from NASA GES DAAC. Adv. Space Res. 34 (4): 710-714. [13] Kaiser G. (1994) A friendly guide to wavelets. Birkhuser, Boston, 296 p. [14] Gueymard C.A. (2008). REST2: High-performance solar radiation model for cloudless-sky irradiance, illuminance, and photosynthetically active radiation-Validation with a benchmark dataset. Solar Energy 82 (3): 272-285.