In a new weekly update pv magazine, Solcast, a DNV company, presents solar irradiance data collected in June, which showed that Mexico, the US Southwest and Midwest, and Canada received significantly more solar radiation than average. Enhanced solar power generation was particularly welcome in Mexico and the Southwest, where it helped meet increased electricity demand caused by record heat waves.
The pattern of June radiation anomalies was due to a persistent area of high pressure over northern Canada that also extended into the Pacific Northwest during the second half of the month. This deep, stationary area of high pressure restricted or “blocked” the usual approach of weather systems from the west, causing hot and dry air to accumulate over Mexico and the Southwest and preventing the usual cool and cloudy weather from breaking out in and over Canada. Midwest.
Regional storm episodes led to cloudier-than-average conditions in California, the West, and the Northeast during June, with solar resources as low as 20-30% below average in Montana and Maine.
In Florida, storms and low pressure from the North Atlantic also led to major flooding and the closure of several hydroelectric dams. Solar generation potential for this month remained roughly at the long-term expected June value due to sunny periods between storms, but reduced hydropower storage and generation capacity presents challenges in managing variability in solar generation.
For North America, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) officially declared El Niño in June, with the likelihood of developing into a moderate to strong event with an expected peak from November to January. El Niño events typically bring wetter and cloudier weather to Mexico and the southern United States during the winter.
Solcast produces these numbers by tracking clouds and aerosols with an accuracy of 1-2 kilometers worldwide using satellite data and proprietary AI/ML algorithms. This data is used to drive irradiance models, allowing Solcast to calculate irradiance with high resolution, with a typical error of less than 2%, and also cloud tracking forecasts. This data is used by more than 300 companies that manage more than 150 GW of solar energy worldwide.