Spectral analysis of solar-irradiance fluctuations

G. Bel, M. M. Bandi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Solar-irradiance fluctuations possess a power-law spectrum with two different slopes in the intermediate (1/day <f<1/h) and high [1/h <f<1/(2 min)] frequency (f) regimes. This spectrum is a combination of a deterministic (latitude-dependent) variation of daylight duration and a stochastic component arising from various environmental attenuation factors. We propose a principled approach to decompose the solar-irradiance time series into the deterministic location-dependent clear sky and the stochastic environmental attenuation signals. Such decomposition permits one to systematically analyze the solar photovoltaic power-fluctuation spectra after accounting for the strong geographic dependence, failing which no baseline standard exists with which to compare spectra between disparate geographic locations. Our analysis for two different locations shows that the stochastic environmental factors determine the spectral power-law slope in the high-frequency range, while the deterministic clear-sky signal plays a role in the intermediate frequency range. We close by discussing its implications for solar photovoltaic power production, in particular, for the geographic smoothing of fluctuations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number034019
JournalPhysical Review Applied
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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