Reading the twenty chapters of this book caused me mixed reactions, though all were positive. My responses were shaped by several factors. Although I have maintained a “watching brief’ on the relevant literature, my last substantive writing on these topics was a series of papers published in 1993 in Renewable Energy. I am impressed to see how far the field has progressed in just over a decade - and not only in selected areas, but across all dimensions of solar radiation theory, measurement, modelling and application.
I was also pleased to be reminded of the solid knowledge-base that was generated by the research community of the 1980s and early 1990s-both the theoreticians and those of us with a more applied focus. The work reported in Modeling Solar Radiation at the Earth’s Surface suggests incremental rather than revolutionary changes in our knowledge and understanding.
Another factor which influenced my response to the individual chapters, and collectively to the book, is the fact that solar radiation is now a mainstream source of energy that is making significant contributions to meeting the diverse and growing needs for “clean” energy. The joint attributes of being renewable and low carbon gives solar energy a status that now places it centre stage in discussions of energy futures. But a comprehensive and integrated understanding of the spatial, temporal, spectral and directional attributes of the resource, at relevant scales, is required if this energy source is to be utilized to its fullest potential. Modeling Solar Radiation at the Earth’s Surface demonstrates unequivocally that the necessary capabilities now exist, and that they are mature and ready to be applied in the practical world. Of course many already have.
This leads me to wonder what my reactions will be when I (hopefully) reflect on progress a decade or so from now. How close to zero carbon will we be? What role will solar be playing in the energy mix? But of more importance in the context of Modeling Solar Radiation at the Earth’s Surface, will I be noting further substantial progress in modelling insolation at the Earth’s surface, or congratulating the authors of the present volume for the lasting relevance of their current endeavours?
Regardless, Modeling Solar Radiation at the Earth’s Surface represents a significant milestone in documenting our knowledge of solar radiation theory, measurement, modelling and application. The subject has surely come of age. Dr. Viorel Badescu is to be congratulated on bringing together a team of authors who are acknowledged leaders in these areas of study. There is excellent representation from both the developing and developed worlds, and an appropriate balance reporting both theoretical and applied studies. The authors document our current knowledge and technical capacities, and how these have evolved to date. They also highlight shortcomings in our understanding and capabilities, making insightful suggestions how these might best be addressed through future research, monitoring and modeling.
John E. Hay
Institute for Global Change Adaptation Science, Ibaraki University, Mito City, Japan