Cloud tracking using clusters of feature points for accurate solar irradiance nowcasting

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


In this work, we propose a system to track the clouds and predict relevant events based on all-sky images. To deal with the nature of variable appearance of clouds, we use clusters of feature points to perform tracking. We propose an enhanced clustering algorithm that does not require prior knowledge of number of clusters. The proposed clustering algorithm can successfully separate feature points into groups with reasonable sizes and ranges. In the tracking process, merging and splitting of clouds are handled via checking matched pairs of feature points among different clusters. Afterwards, the tracking information is utilized to predict if the sun will be covered or obscured by clouds within the prediction horizon. Features are extracted from the tracked feature points and a Markov chain model is designed to perform ramp-down event prediction. The obscuration and ramp-down events have an important impact on solar irradiance. The experiments have shown that the proposed system can substantially enhance the accuracy of solar irradiance nowcasting on a challenging dataset.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-289
Number of pages9
JournalRenewable Energy
StatePublished - 2017


  • Cloud tracking
  • Clustering
  • Feature point
  • Irradiance nowcasting
  • Ramp-down event


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