Assessment of the Solar Energy Potential over South America Estimated by CMIP6 Models in the Present and Future Climate


  • Glauber W. S. Ferreira

    Natural Resources Institute, Federal University of Itajubá, Itajubá, Minas Gerais, 37500–903, Brazil

  • Michelle S. Reboita

    Natural Resources Institute, Federal University of Itajubá, Itajubá, Minas Gerais, 37500–903, Brazil

  • João Gabriel M. Ribeiro

    Natural Resources Institute, Federal University of Itajubá, Itajubá, Minas Gerais, 37500–903, Brazil

Received: 25 April 2024 | Revised: 30 May 2024 | Accepted: 13 June 2024 | Published Online: 4 July 2024


Developing the renewable energy matrix of South America (SA) is fundamental for sustainable socioeconomic growth and mitigating climate change's adverse effects. Thus, this study estimates changes in SA's solar irradiance and solar power potential using data from eight global climate models (GCMs) belonging to the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project—Phase 6 (CMIP6). Applying statistical downscaling and bias correction with the Quantile Delta Mapping (QDM) technique, we evaluate projected changes in the Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) and Photovoltaic Power (PVP) outputs under different future climate scenarios (SSP2-4.5 and SSP5-8.5). Historical simulations (1995–2014) are validated using ERA5 reanalysis and CLARA-A3 satellite observations. The QDM method reduces the models' systematic biases, decreasing the ensemble's errors by 50% across SA throughout the year. Regarding future decades (2020–2099), the CMIP6 ensemble shows spatial and seasonal variability in solar generation. For CSP, estimates suggest that regions traditionally favorable to solar energy generation (such as the Brazilian Northeast and portions of Chile) will maintain their suitable conditions during the 21st century, projecting a potential 1–6% increase (particularly under the SSP5-8.5 scenario in southern Chile and most of Brazil). Concerning PVP generation, the CMIP6 ensemble projects a rise of 1–4% (mainly under the SSP5-8.5 scenario in the Amazonia, Midwest, and Southeast Brazilian sectors). Moreover, trend analyses projected individually by the CMIP6 GCMs converge on an increasing PVP, mainly in Brazil's Amazonia and Midwest regions. In contrast, for South Brazil, approximately 84% of the projections show a negative trend (or no trend), evidencing unfavorable or uncertain conditions for solar generation development in the region. Despite the data and processes' inherent limitations, this study yields a first analysis of statistically downscaled projections from CMIP6 for solar power generation in South America, providing valuable information for energy sector decision-makers.


Solar power; CMIP6; Climate change; Statistical downscaling; South America


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How to Cite

Glauber W. S. Ferreira, Michelle S. Reboita, & João Gabriel M. Ribeiro. (2024). Assessment of the Solar Energy Potential over South America Estimated by CMIP6 Models in the Present and Future Climate. Journal of Environmental & Earth Sciences, 6(2), 110–143.