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Identifying overcast, partly cloudy and clear skies by illuminance fluctuations

Lou, Siwei, Li, Danny.H.W., Chen, Wenqiang
Renewable energy 2019 v.138 pp. 198-211
cloud cover, lighting, solar energy, solar radiation
The overcast, partly cloudy and clear sky conditions can determine the diffuse sky radiance and luminance distributions over the sky dome, and thus are crucial for evaluating the solar energy and daylight on and through building envelopes. It is preferable to properly identify the sky condition and determining its diffuse radiance and luminance distribution patterns by the readily available data. In this work, we propose a new approach to identifying the sky conditions, especially the cloudy and clear skies mainly by the horizontal illuminance fluctuation frequency. Illuminance on ground level may fluctuate at high frequency under cloudy skies due to the broken cloud, while vary smoothly under clear skies with few cloud blockages. For input data, the proposed approach needs the horizontal global illuminance that can be readily accessible for many places instead of the “uncommon” measurements on vertical planes or in sky zenith. The fluctuation frequency factor we propose can reduce the misclassification rate for daily and half-day representative sky conditions by 5.7% and 11.5%, respectively, compared to the classifications using the clearness index only.