The National Autonomous University of Mexico, or UNAM, said Monday that the government will fund a project to calibrate the country's solar-radiation detectors in pursuit of an estimate of the potential for drawing energy from the sun.

Mexico currently lacks reliable data to decide whether solar power is a viable option as the oil-exporting nation sees its reserves of crude shrinking, UNAM researcher Mauro German Valdes said.

UNAM personnel will calibrate the solar sensors installed at the Mexican meteorological service's 133 automated weather-monitoring stations, the scientist said.

Once the sensors are set to the same specifications, Valdes said, it will likely be possible to recalculate the last decade's worth of readings from the stations "to create a grand database."

"We will have systematized information from different parts of the country that will be useful for industry, physicists, architects and biologists, among others," he said.

Because Mexico's topography is characterized by great variations in altitude within small expanses of territory, the country has hundreds of microclimates, Valdes noted.

Though Mexico has factories that produce solar panels and photovoltaic cells for export, the country has done little to explore use of the sun's rays to generate electricity at home. 

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