Physically Based Correction of Systematic Errors of Rotating Shadowband Irradiometers

Anne Forstinger, Stefan Wilbert, Anton Driesse, Natalie Hanrieder, Roman Affolter, Sharad Kumar, Neeraj Goswami, Norbert Geuder, Frank Vignola, Luis Zarzalejo, Aron Habte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus Citations


Accurate measurements of direct normal, diffuse horizontal and global horizontal irradiance (DNI, DHI and GHI) are needed for meteorological studies and are essential for the solar resource assessment at potential solar power plant sites. Often, these potential sites are remote and hence require robust sensors that require minimal maintenance that are not affected strongly by soiling. Therefore, Rotating Shadowband Irradiometers (RSI) are widely used for resource assessment. To achieve the required accuracy, corrections for the raw values of RSIs depending on systematic temperature, incidence angle and spectral errors must be used, and a thorough calibration of the sensor head must be applied. The existing correction functions are derived from comparisons of RSIs to thermopile radiometers at selected sites and therefore empirical. Their accuracy is considered to be site dependent. In this work a new correction and calibration method is presented that removes the systematic errors using a physical approach. It is based on information of the sensor properties as well as measurements of its directional response, and incorporates the atmospheric conditions at the measurement site. In this case, no empiric relations obtained from a specific site are required. The method requires estimates of the current DHI and GHI spectra during each measurement of the RSI. Based on these spectra, a spectral correction, which includes a spectrum dependent temperature correction, can be made without employing empirical relationships. The new physical calibration and correction method is tested at three sites and reaches similar results compared to the empirical functions. This is already achieved with rudimentary estimations of the GHI and DHI spectra and we expect that these estimations can be improved in the future. The results indicate that the physical approach reduces the problematic location dependence of the current calibration and correction methods. The physical correction and calibration method show promise for a further improvement of the RSI accuracy.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)19-39
Number of pages21
JournalMeteorologische Zeitschrift
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The authors

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5D00-77334


  • Pyranometer
  • Radiometer calibration
  • Rotating Shadowband radiometer
  • Spectral error


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