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Abstract

Qatar and the region are experiencing transformative growth over relatively very short periods of time, due primarily to hydrocarbon based energy resources. As the country pushes to meet growing global demand for its finite fossil fuel reserves, it is looking also to capitalize on renewable energy sources including solar power generation. However, the high ambient humidity, high annual average surface temperature, high atmospheric aerosols including haze, secondary organic aerosols and dust particulates, all negatively impact the efficiency of solar power generation technology. We will present over ten years of Aerosol Optical Thickness (AOT) measurements from both ground and satellite based remote sensing data from NASA's Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET) and Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) instrument onboard the TERRA satellite. AOT is a measure of the atmosphere's ability to attenuate incoming solar radiation. As AOT increases, surface insolation decreases which in-turn decreases the theoretical limit for solar power generation. The data shows a net positive trend in AOT of >1% per annum over most of the Arabian Peninsula, including Qatar. The positive trend is associated with increased intensity of dust events, but not necessarily in the frequency of the events. The trend is observed over the operational spectral range of Photovoltaic (PV) cells (340-1020 nm.) The AOT trend is positive for all months of the year, except November, but exhibits a strong seasonal signature that indicates the dusty months are becoming dustier (March through July) and less productive for solar power generation. Trends in the angstrom parameter, an indicator of the size of the atmospheric aerosols, during the less dusty winter months, indicate an increase in the average size of the atmospheric aerosols, i.e. the winter months too are becoming dustier. Work continues on quantifying the net impact of the observed trend on solar power generation.

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/content/papers/10.5339/qfarc.2014.EEPP1126
2014-11-18
2020-09-21
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