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Global Solar Survives Year of Extremes – Solargis Study

03 Feb 2023

The global solar market enjoyed a year of significant growth in 2022, but investors must stay on top of the impacts of extreme weather and long-term resource variability on their pipelines and operational portfolios. This is according to new resource data from Solargis, the energy industry's trusted source of solar data, software and expertise.

Solargis' 2022 Global Solar Performance maps cross reference satellite solar irradiance (Global Horizontal Irradiation / GHI) and air temperature data from the past 12 months with long-term averages spanning up to 29 years to show how the performance of solar projects may have differed from expectations.

Significant deviations from long-term average solar irradiance and temperature levels in key solar markets in 2022, coupled with unseasonal extreme weather events, have underscored the importance to investors of using a robust combination of long- and short-term meteorological data to understand climate risks and make informed investment decisions.

Key regional findings include:

· NORTH AMERICA: North America's data shows significantly above average GHI levels in 2022. However, substantial grid challenges have recently been exposed by prolonged heatwave and cold conditions. Developers and operators of solar portfolios, now encouraged by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), are advised to invest in short-term, high resolution forecasting data to better understand the impact of these events and support integration of storage infrastructure.

· SOUTH AMERICA: The data from 2022 show stronger performance in Argentina and Chile and below average resource in remote regions of Northern Brazil.

· AFRICA: Global Horizontal Irradiation (GHI) on the African continent remains consistently high, illustrating the ongoing untapped potential for solar development in the region. However, below average irradiance levels in renewables hotspot South Africa indicate the need for investors in African renewables to invest in the resource data to better understand the performance of their solar portfolios.

· AUSTRALIA: GHI levels in Australia have maintained a consistent pattern over the last three years, with above- and below-par performance on the East and West Coasts respectively. In 2022, however, the South East of the country experienced significant lows of up to 10% below the long-term average – consistent with extreme rainfall and flooding. 

· EUROPE: Europe's solar resource in many markets was 10% above yearly long-term average. However, heatwaves, large temperature fluctuations and disruption of weather patterns present a growing challenge to the stability of the grid. Significantly below-par GHI was recorded in Spain during the Spring of 2022, contributing to energy pricing and security challenges amid the European energy crisis.

· INDIA: Over the past 4 years, including 2022, Southern India shows consistent below average GHI as it has faced extreme weather conditions. Combining long-term averages with high resolution regional forecasting is essential for an understanding of how this may affect financing of solar portfolios in the region.

· SOUTHEAST ASIA: These island nations are subject to large variability. With unique terrain and variable weather patterns, adoption of solar energy will need to be accompanied by solid data to support energy independence in this region.

In light of these findings, Solargis has identified a number of industry challenges that will drive investment in high-resolution solar resource data in 2023.

Marcel Suri, CEO of Solargis explains: "Our analysis shows that the weather variability has to be seriously considered in performance assumptions by solar investors. We expect higher demand, not only for reliable resource estimates based on long-term averages, but also for short-term data that helps operators stay on top of short-term weather variability. Both types of data are needed to understand financial risks and performance potential for the lifetime of a solar project."

"The need for high resolution data will become even more acute as solar expands into remote, untapped regions, as we seek to integrate complex hybrid solar + storage systems, and as the market deals with regulatory changes and price volatility in the context of the global energy crisis."

"Our proprietary modelling and energy simulation technology is ready to support the industry as it faces up to these challenges and takes its place as an integral part of the global energy mix."

Solargis |