Solar radiation is a major sustainable and clean energy resource, and use of solar radiation is expected to increase. The utilization efficiency of solar energy varies with the relative proportions of the direct and diffuse components that compose total solar radiation and with the slope and aspect of the irradiated surface. The purpose of this paper is to develop a simple method for estimating diffuse and direct solar radiation at sites with observation of only total solar radiation. An existing model for estimating diffuse radiation, i.e., a linear relationship between the diffuse fraction (the ratio of diffuse radiation to total solar radiation) and the clearness index (the ratio of total solar radiation to extraterrestrial radiation), is applied to 7 sites across the continental United States with observations of diffuse and total radiation. The linear model shows good monthly performance. The model parameters (slope and interception) show a strong seasonal pattern that exhibits small variation across the 7 sites; therefore, the average values of the two monthly parameters may be used for estimating diffuse radiation for other locations with observations of total radiation.
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A simple method for partitioning total solar radiation into diffuse/direct components in the United States