An adaptive short-term forecasting method for the energy yield of flat-plate solar collector systems

Viktor Unterberger, Klaus Lichtenegger, Valentin Kaisermayer, Markus Gölles*, Martin Horn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The number of large-scale solar thermal installations has increased rapidly in Europe in recent years, with 70 % of these systems operating with flat-plate solar collectors. Since these systems cannot be easily switched on and off but directly depend on the solar radiation, they have to be combined with other technologies or integrated in large energy systems. In order to most efficiently integrate and operate solar systems, it is of great importance to consider their expected energy yield to better schedule heat production, storage and distribution. To do so the availability of accurate forecasting methods for the future solar energy yield are essential. Currently available forecasting methods do not meet three important practical requirements: simple implementation, automatic adaption to seasonal changes and wide applicability. For these reasons, a simple and adaptive forecasting method is presented in this paper, which allows to accurately forecast the solar heat production of flat-plate collector systems considering weather forecasts. The method is based on a modified collector efficiency model where the parameters are continuously redetermined to specifically consider the influence of the time of the day. In order to show the wide applicability the method is extensively tested with measurement data of various flat-plate collector systems covering different applications (below 200° Celsius), sizes and orientations. The results show that the method can forecast the solar yield very accurately with a Mean Absolute Range Normalized Error (MARNE) of about 5 % using real weather forecasts as inputs and outperforms common forecasting methods by being nearly twice as accurate.
Translated title of the contributionEine adaptive Methode zur Vorhersage des Energieertrages von Solarthermieanlagen mit Flachkollektoren
Original languageEnglish
Article number116891
JournalApplied Energy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021


  • Adaptive
  • Experimental validation
  • Flat-plate collectors
  • Forecasting
  • Solar thermal
  • Weather forecasts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Energy(all)
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Building and Construction

Fields of Expertise

  • Sustainable Systems

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