Parameterization of Cloud Transmittance for Expeditious Assessment and Forecasting of All-Sky DNI: Article No. 063703

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Radiative transfer models require vast computing resources to solve cloud transmittance and reflectance from the radiative transfer equation. As a result, models offering precise simulation in operations often acquire individual cloud transmittance or reflectance from a lookup table precomputed for practicable scenarios. To further expedite the computation of global horizontal irradiance and to reduce the storage requirements, the Fast All-sky Radiation Model for Solar applications (FARMS) parameterized the lookup table using elementary functions with specified coefficients. This study extends FARMS direct normal irradiance (DNI) computation by utilizing hyperbolic tangent functions and various polynomial functions to parameterize the cloud transmittance for scattered solar radiation in the circumsolar region. The parameterization is implemented in FARMS with DNI (FARMS-DNI) and accounts for the circumsolar radiation when assessing or forecasting DNI. The evaluation, with long-term observations at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's, Solar Radiation Research Laboratory, and the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement, Southern Great Plains, Central Facility, shows that the parameterized DNIs are virtually identical with those computed by coupling FARMS-DNI to a lookup table of cloud transmittance. This parameterization has diverse applications in radiative transfer models and numerical weather prediction models used to assess or forecast direct solar radiation.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2022

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5D00-82175


  • DNI
  • parameterization
  • solar radiation


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