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Sensors 2012, 12(11), 15750-15777; doi:10.3390/s121115750
Article

A Neural Network Based Intelligent Predictive Sensor for Cloudiness, Solar Radiation and Air Temperature

1,2,†,* , 3
, 3
 and 2,3
1 Algarve Science and Technology Park, Campus de Gambelas, Pav. A5, 8005-139 Faro, Portugal 2 Centre for Intelligent Systems, IDMEC-IST, Av. Rovisco Pais 1, 1049-001 Lisboa, Portugal 3 Department of Electronic and Informatics Engineering, University of Algarve, 8005-139, Faro, Portugal Current address: Department of Informatics, Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon, Edifício C6 Piso 3, Campo Grande, 1749-016 Lisboa, Portugal
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 6 July 2012 / Revised: 17 September 2012 / Accepted: 17 September 2012 / Published: 12 November 2012
(This article belongs to the Section Physical Sensors)

Abstract

Accurate measurements of global solar radiation and atmospheric temperature,as well as the availability of the predictions of their evolution over time, are importantfor different areas of applications, such as agriculture, renewable energy and energymanagement, or thermal comfort in buildings. For this reason, an intelligent, light-weightand portable sensor was developed, using artificial neural network models as the time-seriespredictor mechanisms. These have been identified with the aid of a procedure based on themulti-objective genetic algorithm. As cloudiness is the most significant factor affecting thesolar radiation reaching a particular location on the Earth surface, it has great impact on theperformance of predictive solar radiation models for that location. This work also representsone step towards the improvement of such models by using ground-to-sky hemisphericalcolour digital images as a means to estimate cloudiness by the fraction of visible skycorresponding to clouds and to clear sky. The implementation of predictive models inthe prototype has been validated and the system is able to function reliably, providingmeasurements and four-hour forecasts of cloudiness, solar radiation and air temperature.
Keywords: intelligent sensor; sensor fusion; neural networks; cloudiness estimation; solar radiation prediction; temperature prediction; genetic algorithms intelligent sensor; sensor fusion; neural networks; cloudiness estimation; solar radiation prediction; temperature prediction; genetic algorithms
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Ferreira, P.M.; Gomes, J.M.; Martins, I.A.C.; Ruano, A.E. A Neural Network Based Intelligent Predictive Sensor for Cloudiness, Solar Radiation and Air Temperature. Sensors 2012, 12, 15750-15777.

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