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Solar Energy Vol. 51, No. 2, pp.

121-138, 1993
Printed in the U.S.A.

0038-092X/93 $6.00 + .00 Copyright 1993 Pergamon Press Ltd.

CHRISTIANGUEYMARD* Florida Solar Energy Center, 300 State Road 401, Cape Canaveral, FL 32920, U.S.A. Abstract--Eleven clear sky irradiance models have been selected for this analysis. All predict the beam, diffuse, and global radiation on a horizontal surface. Three types of analyses are made in order to test the validity of the models, their limitations, and their performance for standard or real conditions. First, a detailed analysis of the main equations of the models is performed. It is shown that atmospheric effects are not always correctly modeled. The modeling of water vapor absorption, and more importantly of aerosol extinction mostlyconditionsthe overallmodel accuracy. Second,the performanceof each model is statistically evaluated by comparison with a benchmark constituted by the predictions of three sophisticated spectral codes. Third, real life performance is evaluated by comparison with a large number of measured data from seven sites around the world, encompassing a wide range of atmospheric conditions. The more physical models are found to be generally of higher accuracy and greater flexibilitythan empirical models.

1. INTRODUCTION The modeling of the clear sky irradiance components of solar radiation is necessary in many applications of solar energy (systems design and simulation, control process of the accuracy of radiometers, data quality control, gaps filling process, etc.), as well as in routine engineering practice (e.g., the peak cooling load of buildings is determined for a hot, cloudless, summer day.) A number of models of varying complexity have been proposed in the literature, spanning from simple empirical formulae to highly sophisticated spectral codes. For most engineering applications, the latter tools are not necessary, so that solar radiation is generally computed by means of either empirical or physical models, using a nonspectral (broadband) approach. In the acceptance used here, physical means that no equation is obtained by statistical means from observed irradiance data. On the contrary, a physical model tries to interpret the physical extinction processes as close as possible, except that broadband transmittances are derived instead of spectral ones. Thus, this approach departs significantly from both theoretical (spectral) and empirical models. In the present contribution, 11 physical or empirical models are analyzed and compared. In section 3, their individual transmittance formulations are analyzed (whenever possible) in order to detect their limitations, using a large range for each of the input parameters. In section 4, the predictions of the models are compared to reference data obtained from sophisticated spectral computations. In section 5, the model predictions are compared to carefully measured data in a variety of climates for cloudless-sky conditions. Only models aimed at the computation of clear sky irradiances on a horizontal surface are considered here. It is possible to derive the corresponding irradiances on tilted surfaces by means of a clear sky conversion * ISES member.

algorithm (such as[l]). A literature survey showed that very few extensive assessments of clear-sky radiation models have been reported. In most cases, only a very limited number of models (generally one to three) have been tested against one set of measured (or more rarely, theoretical) data (see, e.g., [2-6]). For the general case of continuously changing cloudiness, some irradiance--or more exactly, hourly irradiation--models have been compared to a large measured data set during the International Energy Agency (IEA) Task IX Study on Solar Radiation Models[7,8]. The clear sky part of two of these "all-skies" models have been selected for further analysis here. The present study will therefore complement both the few existing assessment studies for clear-sky conditions and the IEA findings, particularly giving some insights on the clear-sky part of all-skies models. Because cloud effects generally induce most of the variability and uncertainty in radiation calculations, years of hourly data are necessary to constitute a valid reference data set whenever a general assessment covering all types of sky conditions is needed, as was the case in the lEA study. A different approach is used here because clear-sky irradiances are far less variable with time than cloudy-sky irradiances. Compared to the IEA study, less emphasis is placed on the statistical analysis of a large number of data pairs of model predictions and measured data. Conversely, more emphasis will be placed on the internal consistency of the models, in order to find their limitations and propose possible improvements. Such improvements could in turn result in more accurate allskies models when their cloud transmittance part is added.

2. MODEL SELECTION AND DESCRIPTION The main criteria for the selection of irradiance models were that: (a) they had to be able to evaluate all the components of solar radiation on a horizontal 121



plane (beam, diffuse, and global); (b) they were to be valid in any climate; and (c) all the necessary equations had to be available in a closed form and use commonly available input parameters. Criterion (a) eliminated several global-only irradiance models, criterion (b) eliminated all models that were not fully programmable on a computer and those using mostly empirical coefficients tuned to specific locations, while criterion (c) eliminated the models using special input data, such as satellite imagery. Eleven models were thus selected, and their description follows.
2.1 M A C m o d e l

Hansen [ 12 ]. The absorptance due to water vapor aw is also taken from[ 12]. The resulting beam irradiance at normal incidence Ebn is finally obtained as:
Eb, = Eo.( ToTR - aw) TA


where Eo, is the extra-terrestrial irradiance at normal incidence. The diffuse irradiance for a perfectly absorbing ground (i.e., with an albedo of 0.0) is obtained as:
= Eo.[0.5To( 1 -

TR) (4)

+ wABA(ToTR - a w ) ( 1 - TA)]

It results from the continuing effort of researchers at McMaster University (hence its name, as found in the literature). Its first version appeared in[9 ], while its latest versions are described in[8,10]. This model is representative of the physical category, as it is based on a preliminary derivation of the broadband transmittance (or absorptance), corresponding to each extinction process in the atmosphere. One important particular case is the way that the aerosol transmittance TA is handled. Following the suggestion of Houghton [ 11 ], TA is given as a simple power function of the absolute (pressure corrected) optical air mass corresponding to Rayleigh scattering
mR :

where WAis the aerosol single-scattering albedo (held constant at 0.75) and BA is the forward aerosol scatterance, given as: BA = 0.93 -- 0.21 In mR.


Atmospheric backscatter takes into account the multiple reflection process between the ground and sky. It is calculated as a function of their respective albedos. The clear sky albedo is evaluated by MAC as: Ps = 0.0685 + WA(1 -- T ] ) ( I -- B]) (6)

TA = k "~


where k is an aerosol transparency coefficient. Unfortunately, k is not a true turbidity index (to the contrary of A,ngstr6m's/3 and Schiiepp's B) that can be related to the aerosol spectral optical thickness. (It will be shown in section 3.2.6 that, for fixed aerosol characteristics, its value is dependent on air mass.) It is thus particularly difficult to estimate its appropriate value for a particular period (month, day, hour, etc.) or for design applications, even if/3 or B is known. In fact, an average k has to be obtained from an educated guess or by trial and error [ 8 ]. Thus, for the 15 stations from 7 countries around the world that formed the data set of the IEA validation part of the Task IX study, k was assigned a constant value for each station, ranging from 0.87 for Kew (near London, Great Britain) to 1.0 for four stations in Australia [ 8 ]. (Note that this latter value would mean that no aerosol extinction takes place, which is unrealistic.) The other transmittance functions considered in MAC are for Rayleigh scattering TR and ozone absorption To. Different formulations have been proposed over time for TR in the MAC model. A derivation of TR using a preliminary integration of the spectral Rayleigh scattering optical thickness is given in[7]: TR = 1/[(1 + exp(--2.12182 + 0.791532 In mR - 0.024761 ln2m.~)]. (2)

where B~ = 0.8236 and T~ = k TM. In Canada, the all-skies version of MAC has been used by the Atmospheric Environment Service (AES) to generate hourly radiation data for 100 meteorological stations[13]. It is planned to reprocess the files using an expanded version of MAC and make these data available on CD-ROM format for engineering and research purposes[14]. 2.2 Josefsson m o d e l This model (hereafter JOS) has been submitted by its author to the lEA Task IX committee as an unpublished manuscript, but its equations are listed in [ 8 ]. Basically a variant of MAC, its equation for beam irradiance also uses eqn ( 1) to obtain TA, but the beam transmittance derivation is different than MAC's:
Eb, = Eo,,(ToTRTAaTAs - aw)


T o = 0.95545


TR = 0.9768 -- 0.0874mR + 0.010607552m~ -- 8.46205 X 10-4m~ + 3.57246 X 10-Sm,~ -- 6.0176 X 10-Vm~

Ta,~= 1 - ( 1 --OA)(I -- TA)

(9) (10) (11)

TAs = 1 --w~(l -- TA).

The ozone transmittance To is obtained from an absorptance parameterization proposed by Lacis and

k, aw, wA, and T~ are the same as in the MAC model. The diffuse irradiance for a zero albedo is:

Clear sky solar irradiance models


Ed = Eon[O.5ToTxaTAs( 1 -- TR) + BA(ToTRTA,,- aw)(1 - TA~)] (12)

where BA is a stepwise function of h. The clear sky albedo is calculated as in MAC, except that B] is now 0.8832. From the lEA validation study [ 8 ], it appears that JOS performs marginally better than MAC when compared to routinely measured hourly irradiation data of mixed cloudiness. (There are some differences in the way that the two models evaluate the transfer of radiation through the cloud cover.) Unfortunately, no detailed statistics have been provided to evaluate the performance of MAC and JOS for clear sky conditions only. The results in sections 4 and 5 will allow to compare their accuracy to that of clear-sky-only models. 2.3 CPCR2 model This two-band model[15 ] is based on a more rigorous approach than the other models considered here, as it separates the solar spectrum into two bands, avoiding most transmittance overlapping problems inherent to the typical one-band approach. A preliminary version of this model (including a cloud-layer submodel to treat the cloudy sky cases) had been submitted to the lEA Task IX committee, but unlike MAC and JOS, it has not been evaluated. However, it has been compared to rigorous spectral codes [ 15 ], suggesting that it could perform well in a variety of atmospheric conditions under clear skies. The beam and global irradiances in the band 0.290.70 tzm were also shown to compare well to one of these codes. All the governing equations may be found in[15]. 2.4 lqbal's parameterization models A, B, and C These three physical models are fully described in [ 16 ]. Their predictions have also been compared to measured data in France[3 ], while the original models from which they closely derive have been evaluated using data from Greece [ 2 ]. 2.4.1 ModelA. Model A (hereafter IQA) is based on the earliest version of MAC[9]. However, an important modification regarding the aerosol extinction transmittance has been introduced by Iqbal. Equation ( 1) is replaced by a function of mR,/3, and ~,ngstrrm's turbidity exponent, cc

2.4.2 Model B. Model B (hereafter IQB) offers a practical improvement over Hoyt's model[ 17 ]. Essentially, the look-up tables of the latter have been replaced by exponential fits, thus simplifying computerized calculations. The original Hoyt's model has been used as a part of the methodology used to rehabilitate the historic U.S. radiation data[ 18 ]. 2.4.3 Model C. Model C (hereafter IQC) is essentially identical to Bird and Hulstrom's model [ 19 ]. Besides a change of coefficient to conform to an updated value of the solar constant (1367 W / m 2 instead of 1353), the only difference between Model C and Bird's model lies in the treatment of water vapor and aerosol paths. As mentioned above, a pressure and temperature correction is used for w in IQC, whereas no correction is used in Bird and Hulstrom's model. Moreover, IQC uses the absolute (pressure corrected) air mass in the computation of TA, while Bird and Huistrom's model does not. Both models rely on the aerosol optical thicknesses 6AXat 0.38 and 0.5 #m in order to compute TA. As these parameters are available only at a limited number of sites (see for example the data in[20]), they have been replaced here using ~mgstrrm's equation: 5AX= /3X-5. (14)

Bird and Hulstrom's broadband optical thickness /)a then becomes: tSA = (0.2758 0.38-~ + 0.35 0.5-")/3. (15)

TA = (0.12445a -- 0.0162) + (1.003 -- 0.125a)

exp[--mR/3(1.089a + 0.5123)]. (13)

There are also a few minor departures from MAC. As is the case with the two other Iqbal models, the amount of precipitable water w is pressure and temperature corrected. The aerosol forward scatterance is given in a look-up table only. As this is only a secondorder parameter, the corresponding equation in the latest MAC version has been used here for ease of computation.

2.5 ASHRAE model Thanks to its very simple formulation, the ASHRAE model has gained acceptance among the engineering community. In the present study, its computerized version [ 21 ] is used, and the treatment of diffuse radiation follows the recommendation in [ 22 ]. The main difficulty in using the ASHRAE model is the proper selection of the so-called clearness number C, that has been introduced to make beam and diffuse irradiances conform to nonstandard atmospheric conditions. C, should mainly reflect the local atmospheric turbidity and precipitable water, but no means to derive it is provided, except a small map of the U.S.A., giving contours of the summer and winter C, values ranging from 0.9 to 1.1. The internal limitations and inconsistencies of this model in its different variants have been discussed in detail elsewhere (e.g., [22,23]). Though previous tests have shown that its performance was far from that of other more detailed models for conditions of mixed cloudiness[ 13,24 ], it is still supported by the ASHRAE and widely used, so that it has been included here for reference purpose. 2.6 Powell's model This modified ASHRAE clear sky model (hereafter POW) was introduced by Powell [6]to alleviate the problem of determining C,. This coefficient is thus



simply removed, and a pressure corrected air mass is used, on the ground that elevated stations have a clearer (high C.) atmosphere. This apparently helps decrease the monthly mean bias error and root mean square errors at many U.S. stations most of the time [6,25 ]. POW has also been shown to perform well (if using somewhat corrected coefficients) in Italy [ 26 ].

TL = 0.1 + (16 + 0.22w)/3 + [(h + 85)/ (39.5 e x p ( - w ) + 47.4)] (20)

2.7 Mtichler & lqbal's model This model (hereafter M&I) has been proposed as an alternative to the various versions of the ASHRAE model [ 27 ]. It consists of a simple parameterization of IQC. The aerosol transmittance is calculated as a function of visibility V which is observed at airports. As the present study necessitated to rely on a turbidity coefficient to allow comparisons, Vwas obtained from a and/3 by solving equation 10 in [27]: V = 1 4 7 . 9 4 4 - 1740.523[/3X - (/32X2 - 0.17/3X + 0.011758) 5] (16)

where w is the precipitable water in cm. No specific water vapor transmittance equation is provided, but it has been derived for the present work in a similar manner than for M&I, using eqn (19), as well as eqn (20) with/3 = 0. The aerosol transmittance is also derived here from eqn (20), using a fixed value of precipitable water ( l cm) and the ratio of eqn (19) determined for a fixed/3 and/3 = 0, respectively. The diffuse irradiance equation is empirically obtained as:
Ed = 0.5Fl(F2Eon -

Ee.)sin h


where X = 0.55-". The simpler version of this model considers a fixed value for the precipitable water in the atmosphere ( w = 1.5 cm). A correction formula has been proposed by its authors when this condition does not apply and better accuracy is needed:

where F~ and Fz are polynomial functions ofh and TL (see [ 28 ] for details.). The EEC model represents the typical case of an empirical model (particularly in the case of diffuse irradiance). Considerable effort was devoted to its development, but no independent performance statistics seem to have been published to date. 2.9 PSI model The Parameterized Solar Irradiance (hereafter PSI) model is a simplified, one-band version of CPCR2 which has been presented recently[29]. It gives the beam and global irradiances as an expansion of solar elevation, with coefficients dependent on precipitable water, Angstrrm's/3 turbidity coefficient, zonal (or regional) ground albedo, and station's altitude. (A discussion on the sources of data for the zonal albedo and its conceptual difference from the local albedo can be found in[29] .) PSI has been shown to closely duplicate CPCR2 predictions [ 29 ], but it has not yet been tested against independent data.

F ( w ) = (1.0223 - 0.0149w)m~ a7.


No formal water vapor transmittance equation is given, but it is possible to obtain it indirectly, if it is considered that it must be equal to the ratio of the beam irradiances calculated for a fixed w and for w = 0 cm. Using eqn (17) for both these cases, it is easily shown that:

Tw = F ( w ) / F ( O ) = (1 - 0.01457w)m~ 27.


Though this model was proposed as an alternative to ASHRAE, no comparative statistics of their respective performance have been published.

2.8 EEC model The clear sky irradiance model developed as a joint effort from participants in the European countries (members of the EEC, hence its name) has been described in [ 28 ]. It is based on a simplistic, though semiphysical, formulation for the beam irradiance, using the Linke turbidity factor Tt:

Some important results that have been discovered during this study will be highlighted here. This critical analysis of the individual equations used by the models is essential for a better understanding of their limitations and their performance statistics that will be presented later on.

Eb. = Eo,, exp[-mgTL/(O.9mR + 9.4)].


As TL is not a pure turbidity coefficient (it varies significantly with precipitable water and air mass for a constant aerosol loading), it has been replaced for the present analysis by a function of w and /3 using Dogniaux's empirical equation, also given in[28 ]:

3.1 Input data Besides solar elevation h and the extraterrestrial irradiance E0n that are considered here as external parameters, more or less input data are needed by the different models among the following list: p (station pressure), T (station temperature), Uo (ozone reduced path), w (precipitable water), a and /3 (Angstr6m's turbidity parameters), wA (aerosol single-scattering albedo), TL (Linke's turbidity coefficient), k (aerosol transparency coefficient), fax (aerosol optical thickness at fixed wavelengths), Cn (clearness number), V(visibility), and pg (average zonal albedo). Table 1 lists

Clear sky solar irradiance models Table 1. Input data requested by the various models investigated here Model ASHRAE CPCR2 EEC IQA IQB IQC JOS MAC M&I POW PSI
p T Uo w a :1 to,4 o~ 6". TL 6Ax k






= Requested by the model and used in present study. A = Alternate input used in present study. D = Requested by the model but derived from alternate input(s) for present study. F = Requested by the model but fixed or default value used in present study if no measured data available. See text for nomenclature.

the different inputs requested by each model, and how they have been handled in the present work. Note that if station pressure is not available, it is possible to estimate it from the station's altitude and latitude, using the empirical equation proposed in [ 29 ]. All the results presented in this section pertain to a sea-level site, so that p = Po (where Po is the standard sea-level pressure, 101.325 k Pa) and the absolute and relative air masses are equal: ms = m ( p / p o ) = m . 3.2 B e a m irradiance 3.2.1 Optical masses. Most of the models use Kasten's equation [ 30 ] to obtain the optical masses from h. A S H R A E and M&I use the simple sine function (m = 1/ sin h), while M A C uses Rogers's equation [ 31 ]. CPCR2 [ 15 ] used Kasten's equation for the Rayleigh optical air mass and other equations for the water vapor, ozone, and aerosol optical masses. Now that more recent data are available [ 32 ], the air mass values tabulated by Kasten appear too low at very low solar elevations. Therefore, these equations have been revised using least-square fits of these data. The optical air mass is now parameterized in C P C R 2 as: m= 1/[sinh+al(90-h)(a2+h) ~3 (22)

where h is in degrees, a~ = 1.76759 10 -3, a2 = 4.37515, and a3 = - 1.21563. For h = 0, this equation predicts that m = 37.81, compared to m = 38.17 from the tabulated data i n [ 3 2 ] , and m = 36.51 from Kasten's equation. Unlike Kasten's equation, the form of eqn (22) allows that m be strictly equal to 1.0 for h = 90 . (After the completion of this work, the author's attention has been drawn by a reviewer to a recent publication co-authored by Kasten[33 ]. It provides revised coeffcients for Kasten's air mass equation [ 30 ], resulting from updated atmospheric profiles and a corrected numerical technique. The new equation predicts m = 37.92 for h = 0 and rn = 0.9997 for h = 90 . However, no specific coefficients are given either for the water-vapor mass or the ozone mass.)

For the revised version of CPCR2, the water vapor mass is obtained from data in [ 32 ] still with eqn (22) but with different coefficients: al = 4.29452 10 -4, a2 = 2.24849, and a3 = -1.25290. Finally, the ozone mass is obtained in a similar manner, with a~ = 1.07489 10 -2, a2 = 6.62667, and a3 = -1.38802. Differences between all these equations are only significant below about h = 5-10 . Figure 1 shows a plot of the different optical mass equations used in the models tested here, for solar elevations below 10 . Calculations have been extended to a solar depression of - 1o. (Solar depressions of a few degrees may be encountered at elevated sites.) A truly physical parameterization of an optical mass should predict an everincreasing value for decreasing solar elevations or depressions. Rogers equation and the 1/sin h equation are symetrical about the zero elevation value, so that they do not follow this rule. It is also apparent from Fig. 1 that a large range of values are obtained for h = 0, depending on the type of optical mass. For example, the extremes predicted by eqn (22) are 14.3 for the ozone mass and 71.4 for the water vapor mass. The use of separate equations based on recent data for the different optical paths, such as eqn (22), is recommended in the general case where calculations at low solar elevations are considered. (Although the accuracy of calculations at low solar altitudes may seem of marginal interest in usual solar energy applications, it may be an issue in mountaineous areas or for some theoretical studies. Because the future use of a model is never known, it is this author's perception that all equations be as physical as possible, covering the whole range of possible conditions, or at least that their limitations be duly stated.) The absolute air mass is used to compute the aerosol transmittance for IQA, IQB, IQC, MAC, M&I, and JOS, rather than m in Bird and Hulstrom's model and CPCR2. MAC, JOS, and M&I also use mR for the calculation of water vapor absorption. The other models use m instead, but IQA, IQB, and IQC use a pressure and temperature correction on w. (According to [ 34 ],




.... .....


.... - -

CPCP,2 Air

CPCR2 Water 55
--CPCR2 Ozone


< 45


o In O









Fig. 1. Optical mass predictions at low solar elevations.

no temperature correction would be necessary on w; the justification of the pressure correction remains debatable to the eyes of the present author.) MAC uses mR again in the calculation of ozone absorption. It is this author's recommendation that mR be used only for the calculation of the transmittances by air molecules (Rayleigh) and uniformly mixed gases because the concentration of these constituents in the atmosphere is pressure dependent. The altitude dependence of water vapor, aerosols, and ozone follows different patterns, so that their respective (nonpressure corrected) optical masses should be used along with the corresponding reduced paths (w,/3, and Up) observed directly above the site. As discussed in [ 15 ], the aerosol optical mass may be taken equal to the water vapor optical mass. 3.2.2 Rayleigh scattering. Though Rayleigh scattering is considered as a well described process, its broadband transmittance T~ is not always correctly formulated. For instance, anomalous beam irradiance values are obtained with JOS for h < 2 , with IQA for h < 4 , and with IQC for h < 3 when a Rayleigh atmosphere is considered (Fig. 2). With JOS and IQA, negative or excessively high irradiances are also ob-

tained in normal atmospheric conditions at low solar elevations. For MAC, the equation giving TR has changed in each successive publication. For instance, two different equations are recommended in the latest references[8,10]. When the typo in[8]is corrected, both equations appear to give nearly identical results. Equation (2), as recommended in[10], has been preferred here because it is documented in a refereed paper[7]. CPCR2 and MAC used similar techniques to derive TR from a physical approach and their results are in close agreement at any air mass. EEC predicts about 8% lower than CPCR2 and 4% below MAC at m = 10, but otherwise gives similar results. (For EEC, the Rayleigh transmittance is simply obtained from eqn (19) with Tz = 0. This simplification may explain in part the apparent lower transmittance of this model, because in reality it incorporates the ozone transmittance as well [ 35 ] .) 3.2.3 Ozone absorption. The ozone transmittance results of IQA, IQC, and MAC agree to those of CPCR2 within _+ 1% as long as muo is not larger than about 5 cm (Fig. 3). (Note that surprisingly for MAC, an unusually complex transmittance equation is used, while a fixed value of the ozone reduced path, Up = 0.35 cm


.... ....i,"'" 'i,i

Clear sky solar irradiance models



. . . .




O Z < }F-




0.5- Iqbal A - - - - Iqbal B ..... Iqbal C ...... MAC ........ Josefsson

. . . . . a ~

-- -

" % " '-'- ~- . . . . ._


" "";"


1 It i i *l s I


0.2 0





. . . .









. . . .






Fig. 2. Rayleigh transmittance predicted by different models.


ILl O Z <

O3 Z ,< nI--


CPCR2 Iqbal Iqbal Iqbal A B C / MAC



. . . . . ........


0 2 4 m * u z (cm) 6

Fig. 3. Ozone transmittance predicted by different models.




i i I I i i I 1 I l . t i I I l I I I I


O Z <


0 Z ,,~ tr I--

0.90 - .....
CPCR2 -- -- - Iqbal B

Iqbal C


. . . .

. . . .

. . . .





Fig. 4. Uniformly mixed gases transmittance predicted by different models.

is recommended--see, e.g., [ 8 ] - - b u t this limitation has been overridden here to improve MAC's accuracy.) JOS uses a constant ozone transmittance (0.95545), corresponding to m u o .~ 1.35 (Fig. 3). As Uo has a representative latitudinal and yearly average of 0.35 cm[36], this condition corresponds to m ~. 3.9 or a solar elevation of about 15. Therefore, JOS will tend to underestimate the ozone transmittance whenever h

> 15 (i.e., in the majority of cases, except at very high latitudes). Because of their common root, IQA and MAC give exactly identical results as long as a sea-level calculation is performed. 3.2.4 M i x e d gases absorption. Only CPCR2, IQB, and IQC take the mixed gases absorption into consideration, though it is of the same order of magnitude


WATER VAPOR ABSORPTION t i i i i i i i i i


~ . ~ _ .

_____._ -. ' ~"



Iqbal B





Iqbal C EEC M&I

oo Z < n." I-

p = 1013 mb



0.7 0
5 10 15




Fig. 5. Water vapor transmittance predicted by different models.

Clear sky solar irradiance models as the other absorption processes (by ozone and water vapor). CPCR2 and IQC give almost identical results, while comparatively to CPCR2 and IQC, IQB tends to underpredict significantly at high air masses (Fig. 4). 3.2.5 W a t e r v a p o r a b s o r p t i o n . The prediction of water vapor absorption is generally in close agreement from model to model, at least for m w < 1 cm. For the models using the absorptance approach (IQA, IQB, JOS, and MAC), the corresponding transmittances were obtained as T w = 1 - a w . For m w = 20 cm, the transmittance predicted by IQC is about 4% over CPCR2, IQA, JOS, and MAC, and about 14% over IQB (Fig. 5 ). EEC and M&I have a pronounced erratic behavior, due to their nonphysical derivation. (For these models, the water vapor transmittance equation has been derived for this study as explained above, but is a function of m and w separately; the individual values necessary to obtain Fig. 5 result from averaging many calculations made with different (m, w) pairs with the same r n w value, so that the resulting transmittance may not be considered as a unique function of m w as with the other models.) 3.2.6 A e r o s o l e x t i n c t i o n . For clear sky conditions, aerosols are generally the main source of extinction in the atmosphere. Their opposite effect on the beam and diffuse irradiances is documented elsewhere (e.g.[ 15 ]). Surprisingly, as Fig. 6 demonstrates, most models agree well on the prediction of TA for low to relatively high turbidities (/3 = 0 - 0.47) and medium to high solar


elevations (h > 40 ). However, this agreement deteriorates as solar elevation decreases and m/3 increases. For instance, IQA asymptotically reaches a minimum TA of 0.1456 if t~ = 1.3 (value that has been used throughout in this section), while the other models predict far lower values if/3 > 0.2 (Fig. 7). For/3 -- 0.8 and w from 1 to at least 4 cm, it appears that EEC predicts a slightly negative global irradiance for h < 6 . For k = 0.7 and w = 4 cm, JOS predicts negative beam irradiances for h lower than about 12. It may therefore be concluded that eqn (7) is not physically sound and eqn (3) should be preferred. The relationship between/3 and k has been investigated using the aerosol transmittance predicted by CPCR2, for a large range of/3 (0 - 0.47). As CPCR2 does not consider a multiplicative aerosol transmittance such as eqn (3) with MAC, a modified broadband (0.29-2.7 #m) transmittance had to be defined as the ratio of the values of Eb, respectively predicted for a given/3 and for/3 = 0. For each TA thus generated, k was then obtained by solving eqn ( 1). This procedure was done for different solar elevations and turbidities, and the results appear in Table 2. If the predictions of CPCR2 may be considered accurate, it appeals that k is not only a function of turbidity, but also of air mass (k essentially decreases with m for a fixed/3), thus is not appropriate for accurate radiation modeling. Finally, it may be noted from Figs. 6 and 7 that IQA, IQB, and M&I incorrectly predict a transmittance value below 1.0 for/3 = 0.

I,,,,~ J , , , l ~ , , , , , , , , I , , , t , , , , , I , ~ , , * J ~ , l , , l l l l l l I

h =45 0.9

- CPCR2 Iqbal A Iqbal B Iqbal C M~chler EEC

I uJ o z ,<

p = 1013 mb

..... --....

% ,

oo z nI-


% \




0.3 - ~



0.2 BETA




Fig. 6. Aerosol transmittance predicted by different models for a solar elevation of 45.



I . . . . . . . . . I . . . . . . , , , I . . . . . . . . . I . . . . . . . . II . . . . . . . . I




h = 5

--~ ~ ~ cz= 1.3 p = 1013 mb .... ---

Iqbal A Iqbal B Iqbal C


0 Z <


M~.chler EEC

\ ,,~ tr I-.z

\ 0.4 \ \





0.1 0.2




BETA Fig. 7. Aerosol transmittance predicted by different models for a solar elevation of 5 .

3.3 Diffuse irradiance Unlike beam radiation, diffuse radiation cannot be modeled in terms of individual transmittances. Therefore, no such detailed analysis, as done in section 3.2, can be done in this case. The diffuse irradiance values predicted by the 11 models were only compared for a few atmospheric conditions. As clear-sky diffuse radiation is mostly dependent on solar elevation and turbidity, plots of the variation of the predicted irradiance with h have been made for different /3 values. Two such plots corresponding to somewhat extreme turbidity conditions (B = 0 and 0.47) are displayed in Fig. 8. It appears that large differences between the predicted irradiances occur, at least on a relative scale. It is also evident that, relatively to the bulk of other models, A S H R A E predicts a very low diffuse irradiance for

a turbid sky (/~ = 0.47), even if an unusually small value of the clearness number ( C , = 0.8) is used. At h = 60 , the value of C, needed to replicate the CPCR2 prediction would be 0.367. To replicate the prediction of beam radiation in the same conditions, C, would have to be equal to 0.443. As was discussed in[23], the A S H R A E model has been empirically tuned to fit conditions o f " v e r y clear skies" (i.e., with low turbidity) for an important engineering purpose (peak cooling load calculations). Therefore, its use in turbid conditions is not recommended. Because of the simplistic approach used in the A S H R A E model, C, appears as an empirical, fine tuning coefficient. If accurate calculations were to be done with this model, C, should be derived as a function of turbidity, precipitable water, ozone amount, pressure, zonal albedo, and solar elevation. As the derivation of such an intricate function

Table 2. Equivalent values of the aerosol transparency coefficient k for fixed turbidity conditions and different solar elevations B 0 5 15 30 45 90 0.0 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000 0.05 0.929 0.941 0.932 0.927 0.925 0.923 0.1 0.883 0.895 0.874 0.897 0.857 0.854 0.2 0.813 0.823 0.781 0.754 0.744 0.735 0.3 -0.768 0.708 0.668 0.652 0.638 0.4 -0.722 0.649 0.598 0.576 0.558 0.47 -0.694 0.614 0.556 0.531 0.510

Clear sky solar irradiance models

I=,,al,,,=l,,,,I .... I .... t .... I .... I .... I .... I

[ntnl[ .... I .... I .... Ill,,I,,,,I .... I,,,,I .... I




z t~ 60 ,~.;,.. 40


-~-.,~_.-.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ....

- CPCR2 .... MAC -- -- - JOS ..... Iqbal A Iqbal B .... Iqbal C ..... Machler ..... EEC ........ ASHRAE ......... POW ...... PSI


13 = 0 . 4 7 k=0.S2 C n = 0.8

. ..... " - "

ILl O Z n" _





,P l,



.... I .... I .... I .... I .... ] ....

k--1 C n = 1.1
I .... I .... I ....

oc= 1.3 w--lcm p = 1013 mb pg = 0.2

B a




_ .......................

Uo= 0.35 n
0 10 20 3O 40 50 50 70 50 9O



, ....

, ....

, ....

, ....

, ....













Fig. 8. Diffuse irradiance predicted by all the selected models for specified conditions. (a)/~ = 0.0; (b) ~ = 0.47.

is beyond the scope of this study, no attempt has been made here to adjust this coefficient to each particular case. Because POW does not consider C, or any parameter related to the atmospheric conditions (except pressure), it predicts even lower diffuse irradiances at high turbidities than ASHRAE. Conversely, M&I seems to predict excessively high diffuse irradiances at very low turbidities. MAC and JOS have been used with an optimized value of k, as obtained from Table 2 (e.g., k = 0.52 for/3 = 0.47). This special treatment allows MAC and JOS predictions to stay in close agreement with those of the other physical models.




Results from three sophisticated spectral codes are used here to test the performance of the 11 models described above, with the same methodology as in [ 15 ]. These spectral codes are based on such close representations of the radiative transfer process that their prediction accuracy--though not perfect--is certainly better than that of broadband models. They will be used as reference theoretical calculations to validate the simpler broadband models described above. Results of the spherical harmonics code of Braslau & Dave (hereafter B&D) are available for h = 10 , 30 , 60 , 90 , and six basic atmospheres (code named by these authors A, B, C, CI, D, and DI ) ranging from a Rayleigh atmosphere (no absorption nor aerosol extinction) to a very turbid sky with absorbing aerosols[ 37](see Table 4 of [15]for details). S O L T R A N is a special version of the L O W T R A N 3 transmittance code [ 38 ] that has already been used to test broadband irradiance models[ 19 ]. Its published results pertain to two typical atmospheres

(MidLatitude Summer, MLS, and SubArctic Winter, SAW), whose precipitable water values are 1.42 cm and 0.42 cm, respectively. Each of these atmospheres is combined with a 23 km visibility aerosol model ( a = 0.94 and/3 = 0.133 according to spectral data i n [ 3 8 ] a n d a 5 km model ( a = 0.94 and/~ = 0.47). Results are available for h = 5, 10, 15, 30, 50, and 90 . * BRITE is a rigorous spectral code using a MonteCarlo method, that has been used extensively to derive spectral data sets[39]. Spectral tabulations for a MLS atmosphere (w = 1.42 cm) and two aerosol loadings are available[39]. They have been integrated for this study, using a rectangular rule. The 25 km visibility atmosphere may be described by a = 1.07 a n d / 3 = 0.118, according to data i n [ 4 0 ] , while a = 1.07 and/~ = 0.045 for the 150 km visibility atmosphere. BRITE's results are available for h = 10, 15, 20, 30, 41.8, 53, and 90 . It is important to note that all these rigorous calculations predict the true beam irradiance, without any contribution from the parasitic circumsolar (diffuse) irradiance. Therefore, these predictions are not exactly comparable to field measurements with pyrheliometers having a nonnegligible field-of-view. These data sets from rigorous calculations constitute a very discriminating benchmark of 61 values of beam irradiance and 38 values of global and diffuse irradiance to test simpler broadband models. For further reference, this benchmark data set appears in Table 3. The statistical results of this comparison are given in terms of the mean bias error (MBE) and root mean square error ( R M S E ) , statistics that are standard in assessing the performance of solar radiation models (see, e.g., [3,6,8,24,25,41,42 ]). These statistics appear in Tables 4, 5, and 6, respectively for the beam, diffuse, and global irradiances.


C. GUEYMARD Table 3. Reference irradiances (W/m 2) predicted by rigorous spectral codes for specified solar elevations h 5 10 15 20 30 41.8 50 53 60 90

Beam B&D A

C Ct D Dl BRITE MLS/150 MLS/25 SOLTRAN MLS/23 MLS/5 SAW/23 SAW/5 Diffuse B&D A

917.1 688.4 420.3 421.7 95.2 96.0 475.4 292.6 102.8 7.0 120.0 9.0 258.9 42.4 289.0 50.5 36.1 32.1 62.1 58.5 91.5 80.7 45.6 59.0 195.4 151.6 135.1 131.7 108.0 97.4 128.2 109.8 215.3 193.1 307.7 58.7 83.5 70.6 605.0 423.4 386.3 97.2 423.3 112.0 693.2 521.8

1118.9 940.3 788.1 789.3 453.1 455.1 804.5 655.5 617.7 270.3 662.5 297.8 61.4 55.1 117.4 110.6 244.7 217.9 84.7 132.6 620.9 525.3 511.5 505.3 471.3 445.5 487.0 460.3 685.6 657.6 843.9 815.5 99.3 157.2 107.6 171.7 879.5 750.6 756.6 804.3 461.1 922.0 806.1

1194.3 1038.2 937.1 938.0 678.0 679.9

1210.3 1059.9 969.7 970.6 732.4 734.3 969.7 869.7 833.5 530.6 881.9 568.5

C C1 D DI BRITE MLS/150 MLS/25 Global B&D A


77.9 69.7 150.1 141.2 348.2 312.3

82.8 74.1 158.9 149.6 376.2 337.9 120.6 205.4


1112.2 968.8 961.7 953.5 935.4 901.1

1293.1 1134.0 1128.6 1120.2 1108.6 1072.2 1090.6 1075.1

M A C a n d JOS have b e e n used with a c o n s t a n t "effective" k c o r r e s p o n d i n g to the value of/~ given above for each typical a t m o s p h e r e (using Table 2, h = 45 ). This o p t i m i z a t i o n has been d o n e in order to prevent

excessive errors due to the uncertainty o n k i n h e r e n t to these models, as in the previous section. Because this special fine t u n i n g t r e a t m e n t is unlikely from the n o r m a l user, the corresponding results in Tables 4 - 6

Table 4. Percent mean bias errors (MBE) and root mean square errors (RMSE) for the beam irradiance Ebn predicted by different models for typical atmospheres Reference model Mean Ebn (W/m 2) N
Model MBE

B&D 763.6 24

SOLTRAN 373.2 23

BRITE 690.6 14

All 599.7 61


(-15.7) -0.5 -9.4 -0.6 -3.9 4.6 (-14.8) (-8.4) 0.3 -4.3 -6.8

(16.3) 2.2 11.0 3. l 8.0 5.4 (18.7) (10.2) 12.3 24.9 9.8

(28.7) 0.4 -2.8 0.4 - 12.6 2.0 (-17.5) (-9.9) 8.6 47.2 -1.6

(41.3) 0.9 10.8 5. l 13.7 3.5 (20.8) (11.5) 10.6 62.8 7.0

(14.2) 0.6 1.5 - 1.4 -7.0 0.7 (-9.7) (-4.6) 6.0 4.2 -1.5

(16.4) 0.9 3.5 2.3 7.5 0.8 (10.5) (5.4) 6.2 32.0 3.1

(2.6) 0.0 -5.0 -0.6 -6.7 2.9 (-14.1) (-7.8) 3.8 10.0 -4.2

(22.4) 1.8 9.9 3.4 9.2 4.5 (17.9) (9.7) 11.2 35.8 8.5

Parentheses indicate optimized results after fine tuning of the model (see text).

Clear sky solar irradiance models


Table 5. Percent mean bias errors (MBE) and root mean square errors (RMSE) for diffuse irradiance Ea predicted by different models for typical atmospheres Reference model Mean Ed (W/m 2) N Model ASHRAE CPCR2 EEC |QA IQB 1QC JOS MAC M&I POW PSI MBE (-35.2) -0.4 2.4 -9.3 12.7 -17.4 (10.6) (26.7) -1.4 -39.0 7.8 B&D 143.6 24 RMSE (57.2) 2.9 16.7 14. I 23.9 25.0 (20.6) (37.7) 24.3 72.1 22.7 MBE (-38.0) 7.9 -3.0 2.3 2.2 3.9 (-2.1) (16.3) 11.7 -35.6 14.6 BRITE 107.4 13 RMSE (42.6) 8.9 8.5 6.2 16.5 8.8 (9.9) (17.3) 15.3 40.5 21.0 MBE (-36.0) 2.0 0.8 -5.9 9.7 -11.2 (7.0) (23.7) 2.4 -38.0 9.8 All 130.9 37 RMSE (54.6) 5.0 15.3 12.9 22.6 22.5 ( 18.9) (34.4) 22.7 66.7 22.5

Parentheses indicate optimized results after fine tuning of the model (see text).

appear inside brackets, indicating that nonoptimized prediction errors would be larger. The performance of M A C is not excellent for the prediction of the beam and diffuse irradiances (Tables 4-5 ). It even compares poorly to IQA in these cases, showing that eqn (13) is significantly superior to eqn ( l ). However, some cancellation effects allow M A C with the optimized k to obtain the lowest R M S E for global radiation (Table 6). The negative beam irradiance values predicted by JOS for high w and/~ values and solar elevations up to 15 were zeroed. In any case, JOS's performance is surprisingly disappointing, even though the best estimate o f k was most probably provided. This is certainly related to the unphysical form of eqn (7), as already discussed. A S H R A E was used with its December set of coefficients whenever ~ < 0.05 or w < 2 cm. Otherwise, the July set of coefficients was used. Clearness numbers were adjusted to vary between 0.8 for the most turbid

atmosphere to 1.2 for the Rayleigh atmosphere. Results in parentheses also indicate that higher errors would have been possibly obtained with less optimized Cn values. IQC performs generally well, specially against BRITE. This could be expected, as its most important equations are fitted to BRITE's results. As a whole, CPCR2 appears unsurpassed, most probably because of the extra flexibility and accuracy provided by its detailed two-band parameterizations. Other good performers are IQA and IQC for beam radiation (with an overall R M S E below 5% of the theoretical m e a n ) , IQA and EEC for diffuse radiation ( R M S E < 20%), and, finally, IQA, IQC, MAC, and PSI for global radiation ( R M S E < 5%). 5. EXPERIMENTAL VALIDATION With regularly calibrated instruments, frequent inspections and detailed data quality control, it is now

Table 6. Percent mean bias errors (MBE) and root mean square errors (RMSE) for the global irradiance E = Eb,, sin h + Ea predicted by different models for typical atmospheres Reference model Mean Ed (W/m 2) N Model ASHRAE CPCR2 EEC IQA IQB IQC JOS MAC M&I POW PSI M BE (-8.6) -0.7 -7.4 -2.2 -2.0 -1.0 (-7.9) (-0.1)

B&D 691.2 24 RMSE (12.0) 1.6 9.4 3.3 7.3 3.0 (9.8) (1.2) 5.8 12.6 5.2 MBE (2.5) 1.8 -0.7 - 1.2 -5.3 1.2 (-5.7) (l. 1) 5.9 0.5 1.6

BRITE 543.8 13 RMSE (8.5) 1.9 3.2 4.4 9.0 2.0 (6.0) (1.7) 6.2 5.7 2.1 MBE (-5.3) 0.0 -5.4 - 1.9 -2.9 -0.4 (-7.2) (0.2) 1.7 -7.3 -2.1

All 639.4 37 RMSE (11.3) 1.7 8.3 3.6 7.8 2.8 (9.1) (1.3) 6.0 11.4 4.7

- 10.6 -3.7

Parentheses indicate optimized results after fine tuning of the model (see text).


C. GUEYMARD Very low turbidities were encountered most of the time due to the altitude. Their observed range was 0.0120.093. Because of the mountaineous environment, some masking of sky diffuse radiation and some parasitic ground reflected radiation may occur, which may slightly affect the diffuse and, to a lesser extent, the global radiation results. The data subset for Bangalore and Nandi has already been used to validate Hoyt's model, from which IQB comes [ 5 ]. Data from Carpentras[50]are in fact hourly irradiations. This data subset has been added because irradiance models are often used to generate hourly solar data for energy simulation studies, etc. In that particular case, only data from complete hours were retained. lrradiance calculations were performed at each hourly period mid-point. For each station, all the individual data were carefully screened to remove those where clouds could have been present. The diffuse irradiance was obtained by difference between the global and beam horizontal components. The different input parameters were generally measured on site (or close to it) but time interpolations were often necessary. The ozone reduced thickness was measured in India[ 5 ], otherwise calculated from Van Heuklon's formula[36]. Because the assessment of the physical consistency maintained in the derivation of the models was the primary objective of this study and because turbidity plays a major role in the accuracy of predicting beam and diffuse solar radiation, only high quality and detailed data from stations for which /3 was available (or traceable from spectral or filtered data) were used in this study. The coefficient a was not experimentally determined, except in India where a constant value of 2.0 has been used [ 5 ]. In Montreal, Carpentras, and Uccle, a constant a = 1.3 was used. Inference data have shown that ct was sharply decreasing with wavelength below about 0.4 #m (thus reversing the normal trend and translating into a negative a value in that part of the spectrum) at the very low turbidities typical of elevated sites such as Weisstluhjoch[51]. Therefore, its value in the visible band was set to 0.0 for this latter station, and 1.0 for Table Mountain. The infrared value was maintained at 1.3, and the resulting broadband average a was obtained as 0.65 and 1.15, respectively. Constant (station-wise) values of k for MAC and JOS were obtained from an educated guess, using data in Table 2 and[8]as guidelines. A fixed clearness

estimated that the overall field accuracy (including systematic and random errors) is about + 3-5% for pyrheliometers and _ _ _7-10% for pyranometers [ 43 ]. This uncertainty for first-class pyranometers is somewhat higher than what is generally quoted (___5%) in older references, because recent national and international assessment studies have shown that some instrumental problems such as cosine response and azimuthal sensitivity had greater influence than previously estimated. Although no uncertainty analysis was available for the experimental data sets presented below, all were apparently obtained with the highest care possible, so that the above mentioned uncertainties should be valid here. The performance of the different models in real conditions has been tested against different data sets of measured beam and global irradiance. The data sets include measurements from seven sites around the world, covering a large range of atmospheric conditions, solar elevations, and station altitudes (Table 7). Table Mountain is a rather dry and unpolluted elevated site in California that has been used in the past by the Smithsonian Institution to record the solar irradiance and make observations of the possible variations of the solar constant[44]. Data of beam irradiance only have been extracted from spectral and filtered measurements [45,46 ]. For Montreal, the experimental data were obtained by the present author in 1982-1983. The setup was installed on the roof of Ecole Polytechnique's building (located on University of Montreal's campus in a hilly residential part of the city). It mainly consisted of Eppley sensors (a pyrheliometer with three filters and two pyranometers), regularly calibrated by the AES. Some of the necessary meteorological observations were obtained from nearby Dorval airport. Uccle is a residential suburb of Brussels. The broadband data used here [47 ]are interesting because they are matched with concomittent spectral measurements of beam and global irradiance. Linke turbidity data are available and the corresponding/5 values have been obtained from eqn (20). Data from Weissfluhjoch [48,49]constitute an exceptional subset because of its altitude and the great care taken to record these detailed solar and meteorological measurements. Beam irradiance was measured with an active cavity pyrheliometer, an instrument known to be more accurate than ordinary thermopile ones (a field accuracy of _+ 2% is attainable.)

Table 7. Characteristicsof the experimental sites Coordinates Station Table Mountain Montreal Uccle Weissfluhjoch Carpentras Bangalore Nandi Country U.S.A. Canada Belgium Switzerland France India India Latitude 34.37N 45.50N 50.80N 46.82N 44.05N 12.97N 13.37N Longitude 117.68W 73.60W 4.35E 9.83E 5.03E 77.58E 77.68E Altitude (m ASL) 2286 183 105 2667 99 950 1479 Fixed parameters (k) 0.93 0.91 0.87 0.94 0.95 0.88 0.88 (C,) 1.10 1.00 0.90 1.15 1.00 1.00 1.10 Source of data (Reference) [45]-[46] Gueymard [47] [48]-[49] [50] [5] [5]

Table 8. Performance statistics (MBE and RMSE) for beam radiation, expressed in percent of the corrected mean irradiance Bangalore 790.6 2.6 9 MBE 25.5 - 1.9 10.8 4.6 2.7 -6.7 10.5 14.5 3.3 28.0 6.3 26.8 5.0 11.5 6.5 6.2 8.6 15.2 18.2 5.5 29.2 8.2 19.0 2.4 12.7 6.9 1.0 0.7 1.4 4.4 5.7 11.7 7.6 20.0 4.5 13.2 7.8 3.9 4.2 5.7 7.2 6.8 13.1 8.5 15.1 2.2 6.1 0.9 -1.6 -0.5 7.1 12.5 7.2 28.2 2.7 25.7 5.1 7.6 5.0 6.7 4.6 20.7 23.0 8.6 35.0 6.0 -12.0 -2.5 7.1 3.0 -10.3 0.8 -9.9 -8.2 -4.4 -13.2 -7.7 18.7 4.8 9.5 22.9 12.0 5.6 13.3 12.3 7.6 16.4 8.4 3.4 -0.9 4.2 -2.8 -7.0 -2.9 5.9 8.5 2.9 4.1 0.3 RMSE MBE RMSE MBE RMSE MBE RMSE MBE 1.1 6 5.7 63 1.3 169 4.1 132 RMSE 12.4 5.6 8.3 5.8 9.3 6.2 15.2 16.4 6.6 12.5 8.5 MBE 3.3 -0.9 5.3 0.7 -7.2 - 1.0 1.8 4.7 1.2 4.2 -2.2 897.4 607.3 868.0 704.3 Nandi Uccle Weissfluhjoch Carpentras All 738.8 3.3 484 RMSE 23.6 5.0 8.8 16.4 10.3 5.7 19.5 20.4 7.6 23.8 7.9


Table Mountain

Mean corrected Ebn (W/m 2) Mean circumsolar correction (%) N 0.7 10 RMSE 6.3 1.4 7.7 2.1 6.8 1.6 3.9 3.0 2.0 6.7 2.3



6.7 95






31.3 0.5 0.4 -0.9 -5.6 -2.6 21.2 26.3 7.5 31.1 2.1

45.4 4.6 5.0 5.0 8.2 5.5 38.4 41.3 9.0 45.2 5.5

-3.3 -0.1 7.6 1.7 -6.7 0.8 -3.0 -1.2 -0.9 -5.8 -0.8

Table 9. Performance statistics (MBE and RMSE) for diffuse radiation, expressed in percent of the corrected mean irradiance Nandi 144.5 6 RMSE 89.9 20.4 45.6 17.9 44.6 19.5 60.5 52.2 22.1 89.2 25.2 -59.0 2.3 -41.7 -2.4 - 39.6 0.1 -7.9 4.8 8.4 -48.8 - 15.1 63.5 21.8 43.7 19.3 45.9 22.8 25.5 24.5 24.2 53.8 26.4 -28.8 -1.1 - 11.0 8.1 3.4 9.4 -24.1 -9.9 9.1 -42.2 6.6 MBE RMSE MBE 144.5 63 RMSE 46.0 12.5 17.5 15.9 16.0 15.1 41.9 35.5 15.1 55.5 15.4 MBE - 11.9 6.3 -40.4 24.8 - 8.0 0.1 32.7 51.0 76.7 31.0 35.8 Uccle Weissfluhjoch 53.8 169 RMSE 38.8 18.1 48.1 36.4 17.7 17.6 49.3 63.9 17.6 53.6 44.8 MBE - 18.2 13.1 1.1 24.5 10.1 21.6 - 15.8 -4.8 31.4 - 17.6 20.2 Carpentras 85.6 132 RMSE 41.3 29.6 24.5 36.9 19.4 27.0 42.2 39.4 27.0 41.0 42.2 MBE -31.1 4.3 -9.4 19.3 5.1 14.4 - 16.4 -3.1 32.4 -24.7 17.8 All 99.4 445 RMSE 64.7 19.5 30.1 31.1 31.9 26.4 58.4 54.9 26.4 67.7 32.1

Montreal 228.6 7


Mean corrected Et,n (W/m 2) N

180.4 68






-48.2 -1.7 12.9 23.7 21.8 23.7 -42.2 -30.8 22.1 -48.3 18.3

66.4 10.4 19.7 28.5 34.4 27.7 61.4 56.4 22.2 66.5 23.1

-98.8 8.2 -50.5 -5.7 -48.5 8.8 -61.7 -51.0 13.0 -98.0 -24.0









O i.






number for each site was also guessed for each site in order to use ASHRAE. The resulting estimates of k and Cn appear in Table 7. For CPCR2, the aerosol single-scattering albedo was determined from Table l in [ 15 ], using the values corresponding to rural clear aerosols for Weissfluhjoch, rural average for Bangalore and Nandi, rural/urban clear for Carpentras and Uccle, and urban average for Montreal. The pyrheliometric data include a nonnegligible circumsolar contribution because of the relatively large field-of-view of the instrument (5.7 ). As the physical models do not make provision for such a contribution (that may become important at large air mass/turbidity conditions), the measured beam data were individually corrected to obtain the beam irradiance alone, using eqns (27-28) in[l]. This has been performed before obtaining the indirectly observed diffuse component. This helped to significantly reduce the error statistics (MBE and RMSE) for all models, except EEC. (This is understandable because a part of this model has been fitted to observed data that were not corrected for the circumsolar contribution.) The mean percentage of circumsolar contribution contained in the beam radiation ranged from a low 0.7% in Table Mountain to a high 6.7% in Montreal, where high turbidities were recorded (the maximum/~ was 0.49). The overall performance of the models has been evaluated with the same standard statistics as in section 4. For each model, the resulting MBEs and RMSEs were expressed as a percentage of the observed mean irradiance, corrected for the circumsolar contribution in the case of beam and diffuse irradiance. The results for each model and each site appear in Table 8 for beam radiation, Table 9 for diffuse radiation, and Table l0 for global radiation. The total data set includes nearly 500 individual measured values and cover a broad range of cloudless atmospheric conditions, so that the results may be considered as highly significant. The statistics of Tables 8-10 tend to confirm the main results of section 4, so that no detailed discussion will be necessary. However, something should be noted about POW and ASHRAE. Although more than onethird of the whole data set comes from elevated stations, POW does not perform better than ASHRAE. This finding does not agree with the results in [6,25 ], that were based solely on data of global radiation from the U.S. network, the quality of which is known to have suffered a lot of problems in the past. The errors on diffuse radiation appear large on a relative scale but correspond to 20-30 W / m 2 on an absolute scale, i.e., the same magnitude as the errors on beam and global radiation. The relative errors on global radiation are lower than for the beam radiation, as could be expected. CPCR2, EEC, IQC, and PSI are the most accurate, with RMS errors within--or close of--the instrumental random error (e.g., about 5% for global radiation).

The analysis and tests presented herein show that: Among the 11 selected irradiance models, CPCR2,

Clear sky solar irradiance models IQC, EEC, and PSI (in this order) perform best against carefully recorded experimental data. They all have an R M S error below 6% for global radiation, and below 9% for beam radiation. Therefore, it appears possible to obtain the irradiance components with an accuracy comparable to routine measurements given the necessary input parameters. Particularly, good estimates of turbidity are necessary to obtain accurate predictions of beam and diffuse radiation. These same four models, and also IQA, perform best against theoretical (reference) data from rigorous spectral codes. This data set may be considered as a benchmark test for clear sky irradiance models. Many models suffer from various types of limitations (e.g., uncertainty on input data for MAC, JOS, and A S H R A E ) or even flaws (leading to anomalous itradiance values for JOS, IQA, and IQC in certain conditions). The source of these problems has been traced back either to the derivation of some transmittance functions [e.g., eqns ( I ) and (7)], that should be revised, or to the use of " c u s t o m " parameters (k and Cn) that are difficult to relate to actual atmospheric conditions. P O W is generally not an improvement over ASHR A E if reasonable clearness numbers may be obtained for the latter. In any case, both models are not recommended because their too simplistic formulations lead to large errors on the beam and diffuse components. M&I offers a consistent, though sometimes small, i m p r o v e m e n t over these two models. Validation studies such as this one should take care of the circumsolar contribution from diffuse radiation that augments the apparent beam irradiance in a nonnegiigible way. This problem deserves more attention. The two physical models that performed best against hourly data of mixed cloudiness during the lEA Task IX study are not r e c o m m e n d e d for clear sky predictions if beam or diffuse irradiances are needed ( M A C and JOS), or low solar elevations are encountered ( J O S ) . Two-band modeling seems to offer extra-accuracy over more conventional one-band models. The best performers of each kind ( C P C R 2 and IQC) may predict radiation with an accuracy comparable to more sophisticated spectral codes, but with far less computational effort.


Acknowledgments--The author wishes to thank Mr. Robert Couderc, Dr. Alain Heimo, and Dr. Peter Valko who were highly instrumental in providing some of the measured data sets that have been used here. Thanks also to Dr. Ross McCluney who revised the manuscript.


1. C. Gueymard, An anisotropic solar irradiance model for tilted surfaces and its comparison with selected engineering algorithms, Solar Energy 38, 367-386 (1987). Also see Erratum, Solar Energy 40, 175 (1988). 2. J. D. Karalis, D. K. Pissimanis, and V. A. Notaridou,

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