Bridging Atmospheric Scientists and Solar Engineers to Reach Carbon Neutrality


 Major societal challenges are not discipline specific — such complex challenges require the knowledge and expertise of multiple and varied fields to develop effective and comprehensive solutions together. But, given the sheer breadth of any single academic or industrial area, how can individuals learn enough to facilitate necessary crosstalk? That’s the problem facing atmospheric scientists, who study various components of the Earth's atmosphere to better understand interactions and impact, and solar engineers, who develop hardware to convert sunlight into energy, striving to reach carbon neutrality in the next 40 years, but there may be an answer: überreviews.
A typical review paper might detail multiple studies related to modeling solar forecasting, but that is just one niche aspect of the field, and it may be outdated or incorrect. An überreview is a review of reviews to give people who are not experts in that particular field a broad and inclusive introduction to the most up-to-date collective knowledge, according to YANG Dazhi, professor in the School of Electrical Engineering and Automation, Harbin Institute of Technology. YANG is first author on an überreview on solar resource assessment and forecasting, published on January 25th in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences.
"It is important to bridge the two fields, atmospheric sciences and solar engineering, for the common good of carbon neutrality," YANG said. "Atmospheric sciences are clearly relevant to renewable energy and power systems. However, owing to different training and different thinking styles, researchers from the atmospheric sciences and power system communities rarely exchange ideas on a formal platform."
YANG and his team, all of whom have decades of research experience, summarized the major aspects of solar resource assessment and forecasting — a fast-advancing field with many parallel efforts — to concisely introduce the field to researchers in the atmospheric sciences community.
"Given the size of the topic at hand, instead of presenting technical details, which would be overly length and repetitive, the overarching goal is to comprehensively compile a catalog of some recent, and some not so recent, review papers, so that the interested readers can explore the details on their own," YANG said.
The überreview comprises carefully selected representative reviews from credible sources to better inform atmospheric scientists on what solar engineers consider the most promising and important work in pursuit of carbon neutrality.  
According to YANG, cloud and aerosol are the critical parameters that tie atmospheric science and solar energy together.
"The ultimate goal is to have atmospheric scientists and renewable energy engineers work hand-in-hand, which requires mutual understanding," YANG said. "Indeed, if we are to achieve carbon neutrality by mid of this century, a high proportion of solar energy in the energy mix is a must, and for that, interdisciplinary collaboration is absolutely vital.  We wish this review can help bridge the two communities."
Contributors include WANG Wenting in YANG's team and XIA Xiang'ao, Key Laboratory for Middle Atmosphere and Global Environment Observation, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Citation: Yang, D., W. Wang, and X. Xia, 2022: A concise overview on solar resource assessment and forecasting. Adv.Atmos. Sci.,
Media contact: Ms. LIN Zheng,
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