Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Development of the meteorological measurements based model for solar energy availability estimation in Slovenia

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
1.02.04  Natural sciences and mathematics  Physics  Meteorology and oceanography 

Code Science Field
P500  Natural sciences and mathematics  Geophysics, physical oceanography, meteorology 

Code Science Field
1.05  Natural Sciences  Earth and related Environmental sciences 
solar energy, renewable energy, biomass from algae
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (6)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  11773  PhD Marija Zlata Božnar  Physics  Researcher  2011 - 2014  270 
2.  27664  PhD Boštjan Grašič  Physics  Researcher  2011 - 2012  174 
3.  04290  PhD Primož Mlakar  Physics  Head  2011 - 2014  267 
4.  32421  Sašo Vrbinc    Technical associate  2011 - 2013  11 
5.  11380  PhD Mario Žganec  Metrology  Researcher  2011  98 
6.  12000  PhD Jerneja Žganec Gros  Computer science and informatics  Researcher  2011 - 2014  290 
Organisations (2)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  1986  ALPINEON R & D  Ljubljana  1820931  387 
2.  2574  MEIS environmental cosulting d.o.o.  Šmarje - Sap  2271478  303 
An alternative way of producing renewable energy is by the conversion of biomass from algae. Algae-based technologies could provide a key tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from coal- ?red power plants and other carbon intensive industrial processes (Demirbas and Demirbas, 2011).   Abundant in the oceanic regions, algae may also be cultivated in water reservoirs in continental areas. Even tough the technology of fuel conversion is in the yearly stages of development, the potential of fuel production from algae is very promising. Mainly because algae present a relative content of oil greater than any other source of biomass. Besides, growing algae do not compete with the agriculture activity of food production.   Moreover, algae can be used to remove carbon from the atmosphere by photosynthesis process contributing to reduce green house gas effects on climate.   Among all abiotic factors that determine the development of algae, solar radiation is the most important one. Algae, like corn, soybeans, sugar cane, wood, and other plants, use photosynthesis to convert solar energy into chemical energy. They store this energy in the form of oils, carbohydrates, and proteins. The plant oil can be converted to biodiesel; hence biodiesel is a form of solar energy. The more efficient a particular plant is at converting that solar energy into chemical energy, the better it is from a biodiesel perspective and algae are among the most photossynthetically efficient plants on earth (Demirbas and Demirbas, 2011).   Therefore, the objective of this investigation is to assess the potential of fuel production from the biomass of algae in Slovenia. It is intend to estimate the spatial and temporal evolution of the solar radiation at the surface in the marine areas of Slovenia using data from fixed and mobile platforms of measurements, using satellite estimated and using meso-scale numerical weather prediction models.   The artificial neural network technique will be also used to analyze the quality of the dataset and to develop models to estimate the temporal and spatial evolution of global solar radiation at the surface in Slovenia.   Classical approach is extrapolation of general models (otherwise adjusted only for few main sites in Slovenia) towards potential location of solar energy harvesting. In this research we will alternatively concentrate on measurements based approach that has a potential for much more accurate energy budget estimation. We will further develop and use our previously developed methods for replacement and correction of expensive measurements techniques (as an example diffuse solar radiation measurement) with artificial neural networks models using simple, cheap and widely spread basic meteorological measurements. These methods already received much scientific attention. The new technique will allow more accurate measurements based determination of solar energy budget also for areas without long term expensive measurements but where basic meteorological measurements are available (over 50 locations in Slovenia).     Model will be firstly developed for the coastal site Portorož in Slovenia, then its methodology will be used to set up model for two or three Slovene inland sites (Brnik, Maribor and Murska Sobota) and tested for its validity. In the same manner the model will be constructed for one oceanic site and one inland site in Brazil. Based on this several sites evaluation we will try to establish general model. This will be the major expected scientific contribution of the project.   The Slovenian and Brazilian research groups involved in this collaboration project have had a very productive scientific collaboration in the field of solar radiation, including with the participation of undergraduate and graduate students, carrying out analyses and modeling with neural network techniques. The works published in scientific journals attest the good results of the collaboration.
Significance for science
Forecasting the temporal and spatial development of meteorological variables in fine resolution above complex terrain such as that in Slovenia is still an important scientific challenge. Our project primarily dealt with all the aspects of the prediction of both global solar radiation and its diffuse component. The key scientific achievement of the project is a method for the prediction of diffuse solar radiation using newly developed models based on meteorological measurements and/or weather forecasts based on artificial neural networks. The methodology was first constructed for Slovenia and then transferred to the region of Sao Paulo in Brazil and King George Island in the Antarctic. The key aspect of the achievement is that we have been able to demonstrate through validation on a long-term data set that the model construction methodology and the model itself are spatially transferable in Slovenia between areas with distinctly different climatic conditions. As part of the project, we also constructed a multi-year database of fine-resolution spatial and temporal forecasts of the development of global solar radiation above the territory of Slovenia and began the construction of a database for Sao Paulo, Brazil, and part of the Antarctic. The database will serve as a basis for further scientific research not only in the field of meteorology but also in oncology, particularly for geographical research on the relationship between solar radiation and skin cancer. In addition to the basic meteorological field, the project also included research in the field of information and communications technology in support of meteorological research. We successfully upgraded our DTN technology for the collection of environmental data in the most difficult conditions in remote areas. For several years now, we have carried out regular daily transfers of measurement data and the results of in-situ modelling of diffuse solar radiation from one of the measuring stations in MEIS’s testbed using DTN technology. We tested the robustness of the upgrade to the technology in the most difficult conditions. The test involved the transfer of data from a meteorological measuring station located by the rails in the Postojna Cave without the train stopping. The successful test of the technology in the most demanding conditions even gained the recognition of Dr Vinton Cerf, a world-renowned authority in the field who is regarded as one of the fathers of the internet and one of the pioneers of DTN technology.
Significance for the country
The practical products of the project are of utmost importance to MEIS. The practical products include tools as well as multi-year databases of our own measurements and multi-year databases of modelled forecasts that enable a detailed analysis of the spatial and temporal availability of solar radiation for locations in Slovenia on the basis of measurements and/or modelling. With these products, we have made all the necessary preparations for marketing new services to the most demanding investors who wish to utilise solar energy and want to know the estimated yield in advance. Due to the significant reduction in government subsidies, it has become important for investors to know whether they will be able to recoup their investments. We were already able to sell certain key applied results as a service to the Krško Nuclear Power Plant when the project concluded, and we plan to develop a number of additional similar high-technology products. We have also perfected our DTN technology for the transfer of measurement data in the most difficult communication conditions. We plan to market this technology for use in climatological monitoring in remote areas that are not covered by conventional communication infrastructures. Finally, it is also important that MEIS, a Slovenian research-oriented micro-enterprise, takes part in research at a global level and has access to the most complex measurement results – the MCITY measurement campaign in Sao Paulo and the Brazilian-financed research and measurements conducted in the Antarctic. Our research in the Antarctic in particular constitutes a very important aspect of the collaboration between MEIS and the University of Sao Paulo and would be financially and practically unreachable to us if the MEIS research staff did not formally participate in the university’s ETA Antarctica project. The applied research project has thus opened up a number of opportunities to develop new market services and increase the added value of MEIS products.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2011, 2012, 2013, final report, complete report on dLib.si
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2012, 2013, final report, complete report on dLib.si
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