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Journal of Energy in Southern Africa

versión On-line ISSN 2413-3051
versión impresa ISSN 1021-447X

J. energy South. Afr. vol.20 no.1 Cape Town  2009


SASRAD: An hourly-timestep solar radiation database for South Africa



Daniel Ciolkosz

School of Bioresources Engineering and Environmental Hydrology, University of KwaZulu-Natal




A methodology is presented for the correction and filling of solar radiation data at sites within South Africa, with the aim of creating a continuous, hourly-timestep dataset for multiple locations. Data from twenty sites, collected by the Agricultural Research Council, are analysed with regard to the amount of data requiring offset or multiplier adjustment, as well as the amount of bad data. A range correction algorithm is implemented based on the 90th percentile (10% exceedance) hourly irradi-ance, as a function of site latitude and elevation. The resulting, corrected data set is given the title: South African Solar Radiation Database (SAS-RAD). Comparisons are made with two other solar radiation datasets, the South African Atlas of Agrohydrology and Climatology, and a limited set of older historical data from the South African Weather Service (SAWS).
Results indicate that the SASRAD dataset matches well with other datasets, with major discrepancies apparently due to problems with the other data sets, rather than the SASRAD data. The Coefficient of Multiple Determination (R2) between the Atlas and SASRAD for monthly radiation is 0.927, and the mean error between three of the SASRAD sites and the corresponding SAWS data is 1.1 MJ m-2 d-1. The fraction of data requiring correction varied from 11% to 100%, depending on the site. The range correction algorithm was successful at correcting data that had been subject to incorrect calibration, and did not remove annual trends in mean radiation levels.

Keywords: solar radiation, South Africa, SASRAD, data sets



Full text available only in PDF format.



Thanks are extended to the Agricultural Research Council of South Africa, including Irene van Gent, Gert de Nysschen, and Maureen Fritz. This project was made possible by the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) competitive grant #5163. Special thanks also go to Mark Horan of UKZN for his support and insight.



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Received 2 June 2008
Revised 9 February 2009

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