2. The service (2013)


Introduction: the impact of the spatial resolution

Fig. 1: visualisation of the visual impact of the spatial resolution on maps of solar radiation


1. The method, at a glance

Fig. 2: Scheme describing the method to generate the PACA atlas

The generation of high resolution (200 m) maps of yearly Global horizontal, Direct normal and Diffuse horizontal irradiation corresponds to the first version of the product (product P1) and targets the public at large.

The product P2 is more dedicated to professionals (governmental and private actors), and corresponds to the provision of several additional layers:

  • Other irradiation maps to better address different solar energy conversion systems : monthly sums or different orientations (+ normal incidence)
  • Geographical layers: digital elevation model (DEM), slope and aspect from DEM, land use, risks (floods, etc.)
  • Other meteorological layers: air temperature, wind speed
  • Additional layers of interest: distance to the electricity grids, administrative limits, etc.
  • Possible aggregated maps: site ranking, levelized electricity costs (LEC), environmental impacts.

The last product (product P3) focuses on a specific area at 10 m resolution: "La plaine du Var": group of districts close to Nice, Southeast of France, for a "green valley" development. This product is currently being computed by Transvalor S.A., and will serve as a new demonstrator of the possibilities of the service S1.
Status of development (Sept. 23rd 2013): the code has been adapted to exploit the version 4 of HelioClim3. The horizon at spatial resolution of 10 m has also been computed. The work left consists in transferring the work for the calibration from Matlab to C to improve the computational speed of the software, and to create the 10 m atlas.

Examples of additional layers:

Fig. 3: examples of GIS maps for product P2

2. Validation and results

2.1 Before the calibration:

Fig. 4: "Raw" HC-3: errors in estimating monthly global irradiation (GHI)

2.2 After the calibration:

Fig. 5: Downscaled and calibrated HC-3: errors in estimating monthly global irradiation (GHI)

2.3 Results:

Fig. 6: Map of yearly global irradiation on horizontal plane (GHI) (mean between 2004-2010)
Fig. 7: Map of yearly direct irradiation on normal incidence (Beam Normal Incidence, mean between 2004-2010)

2.4 Example of exploitation of the maps of irradiation in conjunction with the additional layers of information, in order to fulfill a specific requirement:

Let's take an example: a SME is contemplating investing in a PV plant in PACA, and would like to know the most favorable sites. To fulfill this task, the experts would like to visualise the map of irradiation only in the areas with the following characteristics:

  • slope < 10°
  • Not further than 15 km away from 20 kV, 65 kV and 225 kV source points
  • and of course, outsidesea,  lakes, national and regional parks.

The result is available in the next graph.

Fig. 8: example of results obtained by exploiting the radiation maps in conjunction with additional layers of information.

3. Dissemination and orders

3.1 Dissemination of the solar atlas PACA:

The service S1 produces a series of maps that can be exposed to users by the means of a Web Map Service (WMS). This WMS can be called by various clients. Three demonstrators are available:

- Website of the solar atlas PACA (www.atlas-solaire.fr, in French)

Fig. 9: Screenshot of the website of the solar atlas PACA (www.atlas-solaire.fr). The interface enables the delivery of time series of monthly averages.

- Demonstrator with HERON (www.webservice-energy.org)

Fig. 10: Screenshots of another client (demonstrator HERON) calling the WMS

- Global Atlas provided by IRENA: http://irena.masdar.ac.ae/.

Fig. 11: Screenshot of another client (Global Atlas of IRENA) calling the WMS

- CARMEN: This is the GIS site of the French ministry of ecology, sustainable development, transport.

Fig. 12: Screenshot of another client (CARMEN) calling the WMS

Please note that MINES ParisTech is discussing by email with two other institutions which should also call the WMS solar atlas PACA from their own interface:

A video has also been provided in the framework of GEOSS: Demonstration video made for GEOSS

3.2 Other projects and orders:

SolarMedAtlas: This project is supported by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature conservation and Nuclear Safety. The website, hosted by MINES ParisTech, provided an access to GHI and DNI maps of radiation, as well as to Web services for temperature, PV and hot water applications. The spatial resolution is 1 km, and the atlas has not been calibrated with ground station measurements. It is exploiting the HelioClim3v3-MC (McClear) database. It costed approx. 200 000 € and necessitated about 1 year to be fully operational.
Note: In the original routines developed by MINES ParisTech in Matlab to generate the atlas over the PACA region, 20 seconds were necessary to compute a single point. In that conditions, the generation of the SolarMedAtlas would have required up to 7 years! Transvalor had the task to make the codes operational for an extensive exploitation of the service in the industrial framework. The time today to compute a single point becomes negligible. 

Atlas over Mozambique: In the tracks of the IRENA Global Atlas, a solar atlas over Mozambique is under construction trhough a collaboration between MINES ParisTech, Masdar Institute and the University of Maputo.

Atlas of the Island of La Réunion: the regional council of La Réunion and the SMEs Transvalor, Mougins, France, and Réuniwatt, La Réunion, France, are building a Memorandum of Understanding to build an atlas. It is also contemplated to welcome DLR in this operation by adding the outcomes of the service B1 by providing maps of biomass over the Island. Markus Tum from DLR, has already sent a complete example of B1 output over la Réunion to approach the General Council with concrete elements (Sept. 23rd 2013). The steps are supported by Mr. Anthony Rosa, from the pole of competitivity Ténergie, La Réunion.

Atlas over the Vallée du Var: As explained in the presentation of the different products in paragraph 1, this project is currently on-going.

Atlas over Morocco: Transvalor received on 15 July 2013 a signed order from a Moroccan company to provide a calibrated atlas at 1 km over Morocco.

4. Prices

The price of an atlas depends on many parameters:

  • The area covered by the atlas
  • The price of the ground station measurements
  • The number of additional layers required
  • The provision of a WMS or not...

That is why it is not possible to give an order of price on this website. Please contact support-sales(-at-)soda-is.com for a quotation.


Regarding the outcomes and projects referring to the service S1 Solar Atlas Generation, a final conclusion is that this service is a success story. This was a vector to generate additional activity and increased benefits both for the research center MINES ParisTech and for Transvalor. Moreover, the routines developed within the framework of this service provides a high value-added to the every day work of Transvalor. For instance, Transvalor proposes to its customer time series and Typical Meteorological Years (service S4) preliminary calibrated with the data of the PACA atlas.