Clear-Sky Detection for PV Degradation Analysis Using Multiple Regression

Dirk Jordan, Clifford Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus Citations


A method is presented to detect clear-sky periods for plane-of-array irradiance time-averaged data that is based on the algorithm originally described by Reno and Hansen. We show this new method improves the state-of-the-art by providing accurate detection at longer data averaging intervals. Moreover, our new method detects clear periods in plane-of-array data, which is novel. The new method is developed by applying a Design of Experiment approach to optimize the parameters used in the Reno method, and Monte Carlo simulations are used to understand the robustness of the found parameters. Clear-sky detection accuracy is compared among four methods: the Reno method, the default clear-sky filter in RdTools, the Ellis method, and the method outlined in this work, using a hand-labeled two-year data set of 1-min plane-of-array irradiance for a fixed tilt system. The RdTools clear-sky filter is marred by excessive false positives. The other methods all perform well at 1-min data intervals; the method developed here provides more accurate detection at longer data averaging intervals. We show that the parameters are directly linked to the data frequency in the hope that these input variables may not have to be optimized for every data frequency and location. However, only a single fixed system in one location was carefully examined. Finally, we illustrate how accurate determination of clear-sky conditions helps to eliminate data noise and bias in the assessment of long-term performance of PV plants.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)393-400
Number of pages8
JournalRenewable Energy
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-83387


  • Clear-sky
  • Degradation durability
  • Design of experiment (DOE)
  • Monte Carlo simulation performance loss rates
  • Multiple regression
  • Photovoltaics


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