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PVGIS background information

PVGIS has been developed at theEuropean Commission Joint Research Centre, at the JRC site in Ispra, Italy since 2001. The focus of PVGIS is research in solar resource assessment, photovoltaic (PV) performance studies, and the dissemination of knowledge and data about solar radiation and PV performance. The best known part of our work is the online PVGIS web application, but there is a large amount of research that we have done in order to make the results from PVGIS as accurate as possible.

The PVGIS web application has undergone a number of changes over the years, with the present version being PVGIS 5. Each new version of PVGIS has expanded the capabilities of the system and has widened the geographical extent of the data we use.

Research within the PVGIS project, what we have done, what we do, and why it matters

PVGIS has achieved a high level of visibility with the online PVGIS web application and the nice coloured maps of solar radiation and PV performance estimates. However, PVGIS is also a research project with a large number of outputs, and PVGIS has contributed with data to several other projects inside and outside JRC. This document is a very brief outline of what we have done and are doing, and how we contribute to research and to society.

Solar resource assessment

Research: We have been active for many years in estimating solar radiation from satellite data, both through our own efforts [Gracia Amillo et al., 2014] and by collaboration with organizations such as Deutscher Wetterdienst [Huld et al., 2012, Gracia Amillo et al., 2015] and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (U.S.). We have worked on improving estimates and on validation, collaborating with many research groups around the world [Gracia Amillo et al., 2014, Urraca et al.,2017, Urraca et al., 2018a, Urraca et al., 2018b]

Benefit: The largest uncertainty in estimating solar energy system output comes from the solar radiation data. By improving solar radiation data and making them available to the public we help investors to make decisions by reducing their uncertainty.

PV performance studies

Research: PV module efficiency depends on a number of things such as the solar radiation intensity, variations in the solar spectrum, and module temperature. Module temperature in turn depends on air temperature, wind speed and solar irradiance. We have contributed to mathematical models for PV module performance and have used these models to estimate the performance of PV modules over large geographical regions (including Europe, Africa, and most of Asia). We have pioneered such studies and in several cases have been the first to produce such maps:

Benefit: Some of these effects are large while others have turned out to be rather small. But as long as we don't know the size of the different effects that influence PV performance, PV manufacturers and installers are free to make exaggerated claims about the benefits of their particular PV technology. Our research helps buyers and investors to make more informed decisions.

All the research results are implemented in the new version of the PVGIS online tool.

Studies using time series of solar radiation on large geographical scale

Research: High time resolution solar radiation data over large areas are necessary for many types of studies:

Benefit Studies of PV minigrid systems would not have been possible without solar radiation data with high spatial and time resolution. Using these results we have been able to show that PV is often the least-cost option for rural electrification in Africa. We are expanding the studies to include wind power.

If intermittent renewable energy sources are going to make a major contribution to energy production it is absolutely necessary to know how much the variability is, and how that varies with the regions you are looking at. Our knowledge of solar radiation and PV power production has helped our colleagues who study the integration of renewable energy sources into the electricity grid.


  • Brancucci Martínez-Anido, C.; Vandenbergh, M.; de Vries, L.; Alecu, C.; Purvins, A.; Fulli, G.; Huld, T. Medium-term demand for European cross-border electricity transmission capacity. Energy Policy2013, 61, 207-222.
  • González-Aparicio, I.; Monforti, F.; Volker, P.; Zucker, A.; Careri, F.; Huld, T. and Badger, J. Simulating European wind power generation applying statistical downscaling to reanalysis data. Applied Energy2017, 199, 155-168,doi: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2017.04.066, Full paper (2.7Mb).
  • Gracia Amillo, A.; Huld, T.; Müller, R. A New Database of Global and Direct Solar Radiation Using the Eastern Meteosat Satellite, Models and Validation. Remote Sensing2014, 6, 8165-8189, doi:10.3390/rs6098165. (Full paper 4.1Mb).
  • Gracia Amillo, A.; Huld, T.; Vourlioti, P.; Müller, R.; Norton, M. Application of Satellite-Based Spectrally-Resolved Solar Radiation Data to PV Performance Studies. Energies2015, 8, 5, 3455-3488, (Full paper 2.2Mb).
  • Gracia Amillo, A.; Bardizza, G.; Salis, E.; Huld, T.; Dunlop, E.D. Energy-based metric for analysis of organic PV devices in comparison with conventional industrial technologies. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews2018, 93, 76-8 (Full paper 2.1Mb).
  • Huld, T.; Šúri, M.; Dunlop, E.D. Comparison of Potential Solar Electricity Output from Fixed-Inclined and Two-Axis Tracking Photovoltaic Modules in Europe. Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications2008, 16, 47-59. (Full paper 0.6Mb).
  • Huld, T.; Šúri, M.; Dunlop, E.D. Geographical variation of the conversion efficiency of crystalline silicon photovoltaic modules in Europe. Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications2008, 16, 595-607. (Full paper 0.5Mb).
  • Huld, T.; Cebecauer, T.; Šúri, M.; Dunlop, E.D. Analysis of one-axis tracking strategies for PV systems in Europe. Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications2010, 18, 183-194.
  • Huld, T.; Gottschalg, R.; Beyer, H.G.; Topić, M. Mapping the performance of PV modules, effects of module type and data averaging. Solar Energy2010, 84, 324-338.
  • Huld, T.; Friesen, G.; Skoczek, A.; Kenny, R.P.; Sample, T.; Field, M.; Dunlop, E.D. A power-rating model for crystalline silicon PV modules. Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells2011, 95 (12), 3359-3369.
  • Huld, T.; Müller, R.; Gambardella, A. A new solar radiation database for estimating PV performance in Europe and Africa. Solar Energy2012, 86, 1803-1815.
  • Huld, T.; Dunlop, E.; Beyer, H.G.; Gottschalg, R. Data sets for energy rating of photovoltaic modules. Solar Energy2013, 93, 267-279.
  • Huld, T.; Pinedo Pascua, I. Spatial Downscaling of 2-meter Air Temperature using Operational Forecast Data. Energies2015, 8, 4, 2381-2411, (Full paper 5.1Mb).
  • Huld, T.; Gracia Amillo, A. Estimating PV Module Performance over Large Geographical Regions: the role of Irradiance, Air Temperature, Wind Speed and Solar Spectrum. Energies2015, 8, 6, 5159-5181, (Full paper 9.6Mb).
  • Huld, T.; Moner-Girona, M.; Kriston, A. Geospatial Analysis of Photovoltaic Mini-Grid System Performance. Energies2017, 10, 218, (Full paper 8.5Mb).
  • Miglietta, M.; Huld, T.; Monforti-Ferrario, F. Local complementarity of wind and solar energy resources over Europe: An assessment study from a meteorological perspective. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology2017, (Full paper 5.1Mb).
  • Moner Girona, M.; Ghanadan, R.; Solano-Peralta, M.; Kougias, I.; Bódis, K.; Huld, T.; Szabó, S. Adaptation of Feed-in Tariff for remote mini-grids: Tanzania as an illustrative case. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews2016, 53, 306-318, (Full paper 6.1Mb).
  • Moner Girona, M.; Bódis, K.; Huld, T.; Kougias, I.; Szabó, S. Universal access to electricity in Burkina Faso: scaling-up renewable energy technologies Environmental Research Letters2016, 11(8), (Full paper 3.8Mb).
  • Monforti-Ferrario, F.; Huld, T.; Bodis, K.; Vitali, L.; D'Isidoro, M.; Lacal Arantegui, R. Assessing complementarity of wind and solar resources for energy production in Italy. A Monte Carlo approach. Renewable Energy2014, 63, 576-586, (Full paper 3.4Mb).
  • Urraca, R.; Gracia-Amillo, A.; Koubli, E.; Huld, T.; Trentman, J.; Riihelä, A.; Lindfors, A.; Palmer, A.; Gottschalg, R.; Antonanzas-Torres, F. Extensive validation of CM SAF surface radiation products over Europe. Remote Sensing of the Environment 2017, 199, 171-186. (Full paper 4.4Mb).
  • Urraca, R.; Huld, T.; Gracia-Amillo, A.; Martinez-de-Pison, F.J.; Kaspar, F.; Sanz-Garcia, A. Evaluation of global horizontal irradiance estimates from ERA5 and COSMO-REA6. Solar Energy 2018, 164, 339-354 (Ful paper 2Mb).
  • Urraca, R.; Huld, T.; Lindfors, A.; Riihelä, A.; Martinez-de-Pison, F.J.; Sanz-Garcia, A. Quantifying the amplified bias of PV system simulations due to uncertainties in solar radiation estimates. Solar Energy2018, 176, 663-667 (Ful paper 4.5Mb).
  • Simoes, S.; Zeyringer, M., Mayr, D., Huld, T.; Nijs, W., Schmidt, J. Impact of different levels of geographical disaggregation of wind and PV electricity generation in large energy system models: A case study for Austria Renewable Energy2017, 105, 183-198. (Full paper 1.3Mb).
  • Šúri, M.; Huld, T.A.; Dunlop, E.D. PVGIS: a web-based solar radiation database for the calculation of PV potential in Europe. International Journal of Sustainable Energy2005, 24, 2, 55-67. (Full paper 0.6Mb).
  • Šúri, M.; Huld, T.A.; Dunlop, E.D.; Ossenbrink, H.A. Potential of solar electricity generation in the European Union member states and candidate countries. Solar Energy2007, 81, 10, 1295-1305. (Full paper 1.3Mb).
  • Szabó, S.; Bódis, K.; Huld, T.; Moner-Girona, M. Energy solutions in rural Africa: mapping electrification costs of distributed solar and diesel generation versus grid extension. Environmental Research Letters2011, 6, 034002, 9pp, doi:10.1088/1748-9326/6/3/034002.
  • Szabó, S.; Bódis, K.; Huld, T.; Moner-Girona, M. Sustainable energy planning: Leapfrogging the energy poverty gap in Africa. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews2013, 28, 500-509.