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Low-cost Sensors for Solar Resource Assessment and Forecasting

Company Name: Arable Labs, Inc.
Program Office: Solar
Location: Princeton, NJ
Email: Dr. Adam Wolf, CEO;
Award Amount: $140,000
Project Term: 12 months
Project Status: Active
Participating Lab(s): National Renewable Energy Laboratory


Solar energy developers and financiers depend on accessible and accurate solar resource datasets to estimate the solar energy available for conversion into electricity at any potential site. Variability of the supply of sunlight has been identified as the single greatest uncertainty in a solar power plant's predicted performance.

Arable Labs' low-cost Mark system can measure solar resources, giving developers and funders a handle on variability and accurately forecasting available solar resources. But users won't use it unless they feel confident that it's accurate.

Before Arable Labs can market the Mark system for solar energy applications, it needs to be properly calibrated, and its solar measurements validated. Also required is careful characterization of instrument performance under various atmospheric conditions, and development of corrections for any detection biases. Finally, these calibrations and corrections must be incorporated in the Mark's production pipeline.

This SBV Pilot will enable Arable Labs to access the unique ISO-accredited calibration facilities and the Baseline Measurement System at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL's) Solar Radiation Research Laboratory, and to tap the expertise of the scientists at NREL. The project represents an opportunity to characterize the Mark system, identify biases and develop corrections. It will also accelerate the commercialization process through expert advice and feedback on algorithm development and data visualization design.


Arable Labs' Mark system offers a range of features for solar resource assessment that no other system currently on the market offers. It features a comprehensive package of sensors, real-time data collection capability, a single-step installation process, and a low price point that makes it possible to achieve greater spatial density of solar measurements for solar resource assessment and forecasting in solar energy projects. The company's hardware and software solution integrates data from a hardware package that includes a spectrometer, a net radiometer (measuring downwelling and upwelling solar radiation), and an acoustic disdrometer; additionally, it measures temperature, relative humidity and pressure. The system also enables data visualization that is designed to be end-user specific, to encourage analysis and action.


If successful, this SBV Pilot will significantly improve and validate the Mark system, which offers unmatched solar resource assessment capabilities in an inexpensive and user-friendly package. The Mark will give solar energy developers the ability to deploy a significantly higher number of measurement systems, improving the accuracy of solar performance assessments and forecasting, and thereby reducing development and financing cost. In addition, the system can potentially reduce deployment costs for grid integration by providing better assessment and forecasting for distributed energy resources.

By increasing confidence in solar assessment and forecasting, the Mark system will support the expansion of solar energy, a clean and renewable domestic energy resource.

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