The origin of the asymmetry in the irradiation distribution at high latitudes

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Publication year: 1999
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SDG 13 Climate actionSDG 7 Affordable and clean energy
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The possibility of using solar energy during winter depends on the available solar radiation and on the geometry of the receiving surface. For high latitudes, the annual distribution of the available radiation is characterized by high asymmetry with a large amount of solar radiation from high altitude angles during the summer and a small amount of direct radiation from small altitude angles during the winter. This article deals with the origin of the difference between available solar radiation during summer and winter at high latitudes. Factors like the tilt of the earth’s axis, the eccentricity of the earth’s orbit, absorption and scattering of radiation in the atmosphere and seasonal changes in the weather conditions are discussed. Numerical examples of how these factors contribute to the reduction of the winter radiation compared to the summer radiation on surfaces with different orientation in Stockholm, latitude 59.4°N, are given. It is shown that the influence of the atmosphere and seasonal changes in the climate, and not pure earth-sun geometry, are the main reasons why it is hard to utilize solar energy at high latitudes during the winter.


Mats Rönnelid

Högskolan Dalarna; Miljöteknik
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