A New Version of the SUNY Satellite-to-Irradiance Model – Description & Validation
“The initial version of the SUNY satellite-to-irradiance model was introduced in 2002 based upon the underlying fundamental work of Schmetz, Canot et al., and Zelenka et al. This model falls in the category of semi-empirical models whereby a physical radiative transfer model is empirically modulated by a satellite-derived cloud index. Version 2 of the model was introduced in 2004 to overcome issues associated with solar-position-dependent ground reflectivity in the southwestern US causing the high ground albedo to be misinterpreted as clouds depending on time of day. This second version was used to produce the National Solar Resource Data Bases (NSRDB) and became the engine of SolarAnywhere. The model was continuously improved over the years and geographical resolution was enhanced to the native satellite’s resolution of ~ 1 km. The introduction of satellite IR sensors to improve performance during ground snow cover conditions led to Version 3 as the current engine of SolarAnywhere.
This article presents and validates Version 4 of the SUNY model. This new version introduces three new modeling elements:
1. An improved source of aerosol optical depth (AOD) for a better representation of the clear sky radiative transfer model background.
2. The ingestion of short term forecasts (nowcasts) driven in part by numerical weather prediction (NWP) models.
3. A new (empirical) treatment of the model’s dynamic range to better reflect observations made during very clear and highly overcast conditions.
The new version results in substantial performance improvement across a diversity of climates in North America.
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