Energy-Specific Solar Radiation Data from Meteosat Second Generation (MSG): The HELIOSAT-3 Project.

The project was funded by the European Commision under the program Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development for the period 2002 - 2005.

The principle objective of HELIOSAT-3 was to support the solar energy community in its efforts for increasing the efficiency and costeffectiveness of solar energy systems and improving the acceptability of renewables. A successful integration of solar energy into the existing energy structure highly depends on a detailed knowledge of the solar resource. HELIOSAT-3 should supply high-quality solar radiation data gained from the exploitation of existing Earth observation technologies and will take advantage of the enhanced capabilities of the new Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) satellites. The expected quality represents a substantial improvement with respect to the available methods and will better match the needs of companies and other customers of the resulting products.

In particular, HELIOSAT-3 should provide

  • solar irradiance data with high accuracy as well as a high spatial and time resolution for a large geographical coverage according to the needs of solar energy applications.
  • additional solar-energy specific data (direct and spectral irradiance, angular distribution of diffuse irradiance, spatial structure of irradiance) according to the needs of end-users

The main components of HELIOSAT-3 were:

  • Retrieval algorithms for the MSG-based estimation of major atmospheric parameters: clouds, water vapour, aerosols, and ozone.
  • Physically based calculation schemes for solar irradiance and additional parameters relevant for solar energy.
  • Implementation of an operational processing chain from MSG data to end-use oriented solar radiation data.
  • Prototype applications assessing the economic benefit of the derived new or improved products for the solar energy sector.

The establishment of the methodology is the basis of new services to the growing solar energy industry, providing near-real-time solar radiation data serving the specific needs of the customers. The implementation of HELIOSAT-3 on a routine basis will serve the solar energy with high quality solar irradiance amd atmospheric data. Similarly, the climate community will be served by HELIOSAT-3 with data appropriate to their special needs. The services will be implemented by partners in HELIOSAT-3 in close relationship with European vendors of information on solar radiation. Prototype applications will assess the economic benefit of supplying application-specific data. HELIOSAT-3 products will be distributed amongst the solar energy industry and a workshop on the benefits of HELIOSAT-3 will be held at the end of the project.

The Heliosat-3 consortium combined expertise from both Earth observation and solar energy research in order to exploit synergies between these fields and to realise a new approach for solar resource management. Customers and users were also represented as partners in HELIOSAT-3.

More information: Heliosat-3

Duration: 2002 - 2005

Contact at GFI: Jan Asle Olseth