Abstract

Renewable energy is an attractive alternative source of energy to fossil fuels, as it can help prevent global warming and air pollution. Solar energy, one of the most promising renewable energy sources, can be converted into electricity using photovoltaic power generation systems. Anywhere on the Earth, solar irradiance generally fluctuates during the day but depends on atmospheric conditions. Thus, when a photovoltaic power generation system is connected to a conventional electricity network, predicting near-future global solar irradiance, especially its drastic increases and decreases, is critical to stabilize the network. In this research, a simple method utilizing artificial neural networks to predict large increases and decreases in global solar irradiance is developed. The red–blue ratio (RBR) values, which are extracted from a set of sampling points in images of the sky, as well as the corresponding global solar irradiance values, are used as the artificial neural network inputs. The direction of the movement of clouds is predicted using RBR data at the sampling points. Then, solar irradiance is predicted using the RBR values along the axis closest to the predicted cloud movement direction and the corresponding solar irradiance measurements. The proposed methodology is able to predict both large increases and decreases in solar irradiance greater than 50 through 100 W/m2 1 min in advance with a 40% prediction error. A significant reduction in computational effort is achieved compared to existing sky image-based methodologies using limited sky image data.

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