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Solar Radiation

Image of the sun above the clouds

Solar radiation, or the electromagnetic energy emitted by the sun, can be captured and converted into useful forms of energy such as heat and electricity.

The success of any solar energy installation depends largely on the availability of solar radiation at that location, making detailed knowledge of solar resource data critical for planning and siting. In the effort to make such data easily accessible, NCDC, the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Northeast Regional Climate Center, and several universities and companies collaborated to create the National Solar Radiation Database (NSRDB). Since 1992, the NSRDB has provided solar planners and designers, building architects and engineers, renewable energy analysts, and countless others with extensive solar radiation information.

  • National Solar Radiation Database
    In 2012, the team, led by NREL, updated the National Solar Radiation Database (NSRDB) to its latest version containing data from 1991 through 2010. The 1991–2010 database builds on the previous 1991–2005 NSRDB and contains data for over 1,500 stations across the United States. The NSRDB offers hourly solar radiation data including global, direct, and diffuse radiation data as well as meteorological data for those stations provided from NCDC’s Integrated Surface Database.
  • FTP: National Solar Radiation Data Base Files (3284)
    Data from the NSRDB are available for download via FTP. The FTP site allows users to download large quantities of solar radiation data, station data, or summary statistics.