Irradiance forecasts based on an irradiance monitoring network, cloud motion, and spatial averaging

Antonio T. Lorenzo, William F. Holmgren, Alexander D. Cronin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


We describe and evaluate forecasts of solar irradiance using real-time measurements from a network of irradiance sensors. A forecast method using cloud motion vectors obtained from a numerical weather model shows significant skill over a standard persistence model for forecast horizons from 1 min to over 2 h, although the skill metric may be misleading. To explain this finding, we define and compare several different persistence methods, including persistence methods informed by an instantaneous spatial average of irradiance sensor output and persistence forecasts informed by a time-average of recent irradiance measurements. We show that spatial- or temporal-averaging reduces the forecast RMS errors primarily because these forecasts are smoother (have smaller variance). We use a Taylor diagram, which shows correlation, RMSE, and variance, to more accurately compare several different types of forecasts. Using this diagram, we show that forecasts using the network of sensors have meaningful skill up to 30 min time horizons after which the skill is primarily due to smoothing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1158-1169
Number of pages12
JournalSolar energy
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


  • Sensor network
  • Solar forecasting
  • Solar irradiance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Materials Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Irradiance forecasts based on an irradiance monitoring network, cloud motion, and spatial averaging'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this