The Solar Irradiance Mapping Initiative (SIMI): A CITRIS Center for Forecasting Solar Power Availability in California

Researchers at UC Merced designed and deployed 2 advanced solar observatories at the UC Merced and UC Davis campuses. In order to implement an effective policy for solar power connectivity, the ability to forecast both short- and long-term solar availability is paramount to utility companies and large-scale power generators. CITRIS researchers utilized SIMI, a new concept that combines state-of-the-art satellite and radar image processing with real-time data from ground solar stations to forecast solar power availability for the various atmospheric conditions found around California. The web-based, near real-time information database generated by SIMI is providing a direct estimate of both current and prospective power availability for solar-based technologies in the state of California, as well as facilitating the deployment and connectivity of solar power plants to the electric grid. The data will be used in decision-making regarding installation, incentives and policies for solar technologies through the consideration of geographical and financial constraints. One of the expected results from this initiative is a complete web-based GIS (Geographic Information System) that facilitates the promotion and management of solar energy utilization in California.

Qinghua Guo

Jean-Pierre Deplanque