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Journal Articles Solar Year : 2022

Solar Forecasts Based on the Clear Sky Index or the Clearness Index: Which Is Better?


In the realm of solar forecasting, it is common to use a clear sky model output to deseasonalise the solar irradiance time series needed to build the forecasting models. However, most of these clear sky models require the setting of atmospheric parameters for which accurate values may not be available for the site under study. This can hamper the accuracy of the prediction models. Normalisation of the irradiance data with a clear sky model leads to the construction of forecasting models with the so-called clear sky index. Another way to normalize the irradiance data is to rely on the extraterrestrial irradiance, which is the irradiance at the top of the atmosphere. Extraterrestrial irradiance is defined by a simple equation that is related to the geometric course of the sun. Normalisation with the extraterrestrial irradiance leads to the building of models with the clearness index. In the solar forecasting domain, most models are built using time series based on the clear sky index. However, there is no empirical evidence thus far that the clear sky index approach outperforms the clearness index approach. Therefore the goal of this preliminary study is to evaluate and compare the two approaches. The numerical experimental setup for evaluating the two approaches is based on three forecasting methods, namely, a simple persistence model, a linear AutoRegressive (AR) model, and a non-linear neural network (NN) model, all of which are applied at six sites with different sky conditions. It is shown that normalization of the solar irradiance with the help of a clear sky model produces better forecasts irrespective of the type of model used. However, it is demonstrated that a nonlinear forecasting technique such as a neural network built with clearness time series can beat simple linear models constructed with the clear sky index.
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Dates and versions

hal-03964785 , version 1 (31-01-2023)




Philippe Lauret, Rodrigo Alonso-Suárez, Josselin Le Gal La Salle, Mathieu David. Solar Forecasts Based on the Clear Sky Index or the Clearness Index: Which Is Better?. Solar, 2022, 2 (4), pp.432-444. ⟨10.3390/solar2040026⟩. ⟨hal-03964785⟩
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