Original paper

Verification of ECMWF and ECMWF/MACC's global and direct irradiance forecasts with respect to solar electricity production forecasts

Schroedter-Homscheidt, M.; Benedetti, A.; Killius, N.

Meteorologische Zeitschrift (2015)

47 references

published online: Sep 8, 2016
manuscript accepted: May 13, 2016
manuscript revision received: May 10, 2016
manuscript revision requested: Nov 20, 2015
manuscript received: Feb 27, 2015

DOI: 10.1127/metz/2016/0676

BibTeX file


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The successful electricity grid integration of solar energy into day-ahead markets requires at least hourly resolved 48 h forecasts. Technologies as photovoltaics and non-concentrating solar thermal technologies make use of global horizontal irradiance (GHI) forecasts, while all concentrating technologies both from the photovoltaic and the thermal sector require direct normal irradiances (DNI). The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) has recently changed towards providing direct as well as global irradiances. Additionally, the MACC (Monitoring Atmospheric Composition & Climate) near-real time services provide daily analysis and forecasts of aerosol properties in preparation of the upcoming European Copernicus programme. The operational ECMWF/IFS (Integrated Forecast System) forecast system will in the medium term profit from the Copernicus service aerosol forecasts. Therefore, within the MACC‑II project specific experiment runs were performed allowing for the assessment of the performance gain of these potential future capabilities. Also the potential impact of providing forecasts with hourly output resolution compared to three-hourly resolved forecasts is investigated. The inclusion of the new aerosol climatology in October 2003 improved both the GHI and DNI forecasts remarkably, while the change towards a new radiation scheme in 2007 only had minor and partly even unfavourable impacts on the performance indicators. For GHI, larger RMSE (root mean square error) values are found for broken/overcast conditions than for scattered cloud fields. For DNI, the findings are opposite with larger RMSE values for scattered clouds compared to overcast/broken cloud situations. The introduction of direct irradiances as an output parameter in the operational IFS version has not resulted in a general performance improvement with respect to biases and RMSE compared to the widely used Skartveit et al. (1998) global to direct irradiance conversion scheme. Cloudy situations and especially thin ice cloud cases are forecasted much better with respect to biases and RMSE, but large biases are introduced in clear sky cases. When applying the MACC aerosol scheme to include aerosol direct effects, an improvement especially in DNI biases is found for cloud free cases as expected. However, a performance decrease is found for water cloud cases. It is assumed that this is caused by the lack of an explicit modelling of cloud-aerosol interactions, while other meteorological forcings for cloud processes like the temperature field are modified by the aerosols.


irradiance forecastverificationglobal irradiancedirect normal irradiancescattered cloudsaerosolsMACC