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National Solar Radiation Database (NSRDB)


The National Solar Radiation Database (NSRDB) is a serially complete collection of meteorological and solar irradiance data sets for the United States and a growing list of international locations for 1998-2017. The NSRDB provides foundational information to support U.S. Department of Energy programs, research, and the general public.

The NSRDB provides time-series data at 30 minute resolution of resource averaged over surface cells of 0.038 degrees in both latitude and longitude, or nominally 4 km in size. The solar radiation values represent the resource available to solar energy systems. The data was created using cloud properties which are generated using the AVHRR Pathfinder Atmospheres-Extended (PATMOS-x) algorithms developed by the University of Wisconsin. Fast all-sky radiation model for solar applications (FARMS) in conjunction with the cloud properties, and aerosol optical depth (AOD) and precipitable water vapor (PWV) from ancillary source are used to estimate solar irradiance (GHI, DNI, and DHI). The Global Horizontal Irradiance (GHI) is computed for clear skies using the REST2 model. For cloud scenes identified by the cloud mask, FARMS is used to compute GHI. The Direct Normal Irradiance (DNI) for cloud scenes is then computed using the DISC model. The PATMOS-X model uses half-hourly radiance images in visible and infrared channels from the GOES series of geostationary weather satellites. Ancillary variables needed to run REST2 and FARMS (e.g., aerosol optical depth, precipitable water vapor, and albedo) are derived from the the Modern Era-Retrospective Analysis (MERRA-2) dataset. Temperature and wind speed data are also derived from MERRA-2 and provided for use in SAM to compute PV generation.

The following variables are provided by the NSRDB:
- Irradiance:
- Global Horizontal (ghi)
- Direct Normal (dni)
- Diffuse (dhi)
- Clear-sky Irradiance
- Cloud Type
- Dew Point
- Temperature
- Surface Albedo
- Pressure
- Relative Humidity
- Solar Zenith Angle
- Precipitable Water
- Wind Direction
- Wind Speed
- Fill Flag
- Angstrom wavelength exponent (alpha)
- Aerosol optical depth (aod)
- Aerosol asymmetry parameter (asymmetry)
- Cloud optical depth (cld_opd_dcomp)
- Cloud effective radius (cld_ref_dcomp)
- cloud_press_acha
- Reduced ozone vertical pathlength (ozone)
- Aerosol single-scatter albedo (ssa)

5 Resources

Related Datasets

Datasets associated with the same DOE project
  Submission Name Resources Submitted Status

Additional Info

DOE Project Name: NSRDB
DOE Project Number: 34218
Last Updated: a month ago
Data from September, 2018
Submitted Sep 22, 2020


National Renewable Energy Laboratory


Awaiting curation License 


Manajit Sengupta
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Aron Habte
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Yu Xie
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Anthony Lopez
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Grant Buster
National Renewable Energy Laboratory


energy, solar, irradiance


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