PublicationJournal Article Where, when and how much solar is available? A provincial-​​scale solar resource assessment for China

August 14, 2015
Publication Type:
Journal Article


We assessed China’s solar resources by uti­liz­ing 10-​​year of hourly solar irra­di­a­tion of 200 sites.

• We built ana­lytic provin­cial scale solar avail­abil­ity pro­files for China.

• China has a poten­tial sta­tion­ary solar capac­ity from 4700 GW in the lower case.

• We observed sim­i­lar sea­sonal and diur­nal vari­a­tion pat­tern of solar avail­abil­ity cross China.


Inte­grat­ing vari­able energy resources, notably solar and wind, requires bet­ter under­stand­ing of where, when and how much of vari­able resources are avail­able. China’s ambi­tious solar energy devel­op­ment goal will be greatly facil­i­tated by the resources assess­ment at higher spa­tial and tem­po­ral res­o­lu­tion. We uti­lized 10-​​year hourly solar irra­di­a­tion data from 2001 to 2010 from 200 rep­re­sen­ta­tive loca­tions to develop provin­cial solar avail­abil­ity pro­files. We found that China has a poten­tial sta­tion­ary solar capac­ity from 4700 GW to 39300 GW, dis­trib­uted solar about 200 GW, and the annual solar out­put could reach 6900 TWh to 70100 TWh. Resources are most con­cen­trated in north­west provinces, topped by Inner Mon­go­lia, Xin­jiang and Gansu. The chal­lenge of solar devel­op­ment in China is inte­gra­tion rather than resources. The spa­tial and tem­po­ral vari­a­tion of the solar resource show an effi­cient, robust, and inter-​​connected national grid and sound energy plan­ning would be nec­es­sary to facil­i­tate the inte­gra­tion of these vastly avail­able but vari­able solar resources.


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