The solar radiation analysis tools in ArcGIS Spatial Analyst enable you to map and analyze the effects of the sun over a geographic area for specific time periods. These tools account for how daily and seasonal shifts of the sun angle, along with variations in elevation, orientation (slope and aspect), and shadows cast by topographic features, affect the amount of incoming solar radiation. Microclimate factors, such as air and soil temperature regimes, evapotranspiration, snow melt patterns, soil moisture, and light available for photosynthesis, can all be accurately analyzed. Outputs can then be easily integrated with other GIS data to model physical and biological processes affected by the sun.
These tools are used in a variety of applications including plant biology, optimal siting of solar energy generation facilities, and projecting potential power of industrial and residential photovoltaic systems.