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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-306
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-306
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 20 May 2020

Submitted as: research article | 20 May 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Long-term variability of solar irradiance and its implications for photovoltaic power in West Africa

Ina Neher1,2, Susanne Crewell2, Stefanie Meilinger1, Uwe Pfeifroth3, and Jörg Trentmann3 Ina Neher et al.
  • 1International Center for Sustainable Development, University of Applied Science Bonn-Rhein-Sieg, Grantham-Allee 20, 53757 Sankt Augustin, Germany
  • 2Institute of Geophysics and Meteorology, University of Cologne, Albertus-Magnus-Platz, 50923 Köln, Germany
  • 3Deutscher Wetterdienst, Satellite-based Climate Monitoring, Frankfurter Str. 135, 63067 Offenbach, Germany

Abstract. This paper addresses long-term changes in solar irradiance for West Africa (3° N to 20° N and 20° W to 16° E) and its implications for photovoltaic power systems. Here we use satellite irradiance (Surface Solar Radiation Data Set-Heliosat, Edition 2.1, SARAH-2.1) to derive photovoltaic yields. Based on 35 years of data (1983–2017) the temporal and regional variability as well as long-term trends of global and direct horizontal irradiance are analyzed. Furthermore, at four locations a detailed time series analysis is undertaken. The dry and the wet season are considered separately.

According to the high resolved SARAH-2.1 data record (0.05° x 0.05°), solar irradiance is largest (with up to 300 W/m² daily average) in the Sahara and the Sahel zone with a positive trend (up to 5 W/m²/decade) and a lower variability (< 75 W/m²). Whereas, the solar irradiance is lower in southern West Africa (between 200 W/m² and 250 W/m²) with a negative trend (up to −5 W/m²/decade) and a higher variability (up to 150 W/m²). The positive trend in the North is mostly connected to the dry season, while the negative trend in the South occurs during the wet season. PV yields show a strong meridional gradient with lowest values around 4 kWh/kWp in southern West Africa and reach more than 5.5 kWh/kWp in the Sahara and Sahel zone.

Ina Neher et al.

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Ina Neher et al.

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Short summary
Photovoltaic power poses one option to serve the rising energy demand with low environmental impact. Global horizontal irradiance (GHI) is the fuel for photovoltaic power and needs to be evaluated to plan and dimension power plants. In this study, 35-years of satellite based GHI is analyzed over total West Africa concerning the impact on photovoltaic power. Therewith, the major challenges for the development of a solar based power system in West Africa are pointed out.
Photovoltaic power poses one option to serve the rising energy demand with low environmental...
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