Short-term forecasting of solar irradiance without local telemetry: A generalized model using satellite data

Jesus Lago Garcia, Karel De Brabandere, Fjo De Ridder, Bart De Schutter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)
35 Downloads (Pure)


Due to the increasing integration of solar power into the electrical grid, forecasting short-term solar irradiance has become key for many applications, e.g. operational planning, power purchases, reserve activation, etc. In this context, as solar generators are geographically dispersed and ground measurements are not always easy to obtain, it is very important to have general models that can predict solar irradiance without the need of local data. In this paper, a model that can perform short-term forecasting of solar irradiance in any general location without the need of ground measurements is proposed. To do so, the model considers satellite-based measurements and weather-based forecasts, and employs a deep neural network structure that is able to generalize across locations; particularly, the network is trained only using a small subset of sites where ground data is available, and the model is able to generalize to a much larger number of locations where ground data does not exist. As a case study, 25 locations in The Netherlands are considered and the proposed model is compared against four local models that are individually trained for each location using ground measurements. Despite the general nature of the model, it is shown show that the proposed model is equal or better than the local models: when comparing the average performance across all the locations and prediction horizons, the proposed model obtains a 31.31% rRMSE (relative root mean square error) while the best local model achieves a 32.01% rRMSE.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)566-577
JournalSolar Energy
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project

Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Deep learning
  • Generalized model
  • Satellite data
  • Solar irradiance forecast


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