Effects of clouds and aerosols on downwelling surface solar irradiance nowcasting and short-term forecasting

Papachristopoulou, Kyriakoula; Fountoulakis, Ilias; Bais, Alkiviadis F.; Psiloglou, Basil E.; Papadimitriou, Nikolaos; Raptis, Ioannis-Panagiotis; Kazantzidis, Andreas; Kontoes, Charalampos; Hatzaki, Maria; Kazadzis, Stelios

Solar irradiance nowcasting and short-term forecasting are important tools for the integration of solar plants into the electricity grid. Understanding the role of clouds and aerosols in those techniques is essential for improving their accuracy. In this study, we introduce improvements in the existing nowcasting and short-term forecasting operational systems SENSE (Solar Energy Nowcasting System) and NextSENSE achieved by using a new configuration and by upgrading cloud and aerosol inputs, and we also investigate the limitations of evaluating such models using surface-based sensors due to cloud effects. We assess the real-time estimates of surface global horizontal irradiance (GHI) produced by the improved SENSE2 operational system at high spatial and temporal resolution (inline-formula∼ 5 km, 15 min) for a domain including Europe and the Middle East–North Africa (MENA) region and the short-term forecasts of GHI (up to 3 h ahead) produced by the NextSENSE2 system against ground-based measurements from 10 stations across the models' domain for a whole year (2017).

Results for instantaneous (every 15 min) comparisons show that the GHI estimates are within inline-formula±50 W minline-formula−2 (or inline-formula±10 %) of the measured GHI for 61 % of the cases after the implementation of the new model configuration and a proposed bias correction. The bias ranges from inline-formula−12 to 23 W minline-formula−2 (or from inline-formula−2 % to 6.1 %) with a mean value of 11.3 W minline-formula−2 (2.3 %). The correlation coefficient is between 0.83 and 0.96 and has a mean value of 0.93. Statistics are significantly improved when integrating on daily and monthly scales (the mean bias is 3.3 and 2.7 W minline-formula−2, respectively). We demonstrate that the main overestimation of the SENSE2 GHI is linked with the uncertainties of the cloud-related information within the satellite pixel, while relatively low underestimation, linked with aerosol optical depth (AOD) forecasts (derived from the Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service – CAMS), is reported for cloudless-sky GHI. The highest deviations for instantaneous comparisons are associated with cloudy atmospheric conditions, when clouds obscure the sun over the ground-based station. Thus, they are much more closely linked with satellite vs. ground-based comparison limitations than the actual model performance. The NextSENSE2 GHI forecasts based on the cloud motion vector (CMV) model outperform the persistence forecasting method, which assumes the same cloud conditions for future time steps. The forecasting skill (FS) of the CMV-basedpage1852 model compared to the persistence approach increases with cloudiness (FS is up to inline-formula∼ 20 %), which is linked mostly to periods with changes in cloudiness (which persistence, by definition, fails to predict). Our results could be useful for further studies on satellite-based solar model evaluations and, in general, for the operational implementation of solar energy nowcasting and short-term forecasting, supporting solar energy production and management.

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Papachristopoulou, Kyriakoula / Fountoulakis, Ilias / Bais, Alkiviadis F. / et al: Effects of clouds and aerosols on downwelling surface solar irradiance nowcasting and short-term forecasting. 2024. Copernicus Publications.

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Rechteinhaber: Kyriakoula Papachristopoulou et al.

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