About the Newest Release of the National Solar Radiation Database (NSRDB)

The NSRDB (V3.0.0) is a serially complete collection of meteorological and solar irradiance data sets. The data are publicly available at no cost to the user and provide foundational information that underpins a large range of research activities that take place within the solar energy industry. The NSRDB data are used as input to performance and economic models to improve the accuracy of grid integration studies, facilitate energy modeling.

There have been substantial improvements in solar data collection and modeling technologies throughout the NSRDB's more than 25 years of existence. As better technologies became available, NREL migrated to these new technologies and updated the NSRDB.

In this new update, the NSRDB incorporates MERRA-2, which superseded MERRA in 2016. MERRA-2 uses a more advanced data assimilation scheme and better simulates the amount of aerosols and other variables in the atmosphere. In the NSRDB processing, the interpolation and extrapolation methodologies were also updated to maintain physical consistency while adapting low-resolution MERRA-2 output to the higher-resolution NSRDB.

The NSRDB provides data for the years 1998 to 2016 and comprises 30-minute solar and meteorological data for approximately 2 million 0.038-degree latitude by 0.038-degree longitude surface pixels (nominally 4 km²). The area covered is bordered by longitudes 25° W on the east and 175° W on the west, and by latitudes 20° S on the south and 60° N on the north. Typical Meteorological Year (TMY) data sets are also included with this release.

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