Solar energy-based technologies have developed rapidly in recent years, however, the inability to appropriately estimate solar energy resources is still a major drawback for these technologies. In this study, eight different artificial intelligence (AI) models namely; convolutional neural network (CNN), artificial neural network (ANN), long short-term memory recurrent model (LSTM), eXtreme gradient boost algorithm (XG Boost), multiple linear regression (MLR), polynomial regression (PLR), decision tree regression (DTR), and random forest regression (RFR) are designed and compared for solar irradiance prediction. Additionally, two hybrid deep neural network models (ANN-CNN and CNN-LSTM-ANN) are developed in this study for the same task. This study is novel as each of the AI models developed was used to estimate solar irradiance considering different timesteps (hourly, every minute, and daily average). Also, different solar irradiance datasets (from six countries in Africa) measured with various instruments were used to train/test the AI models. With the aim to check if there is a universal AI model for solar irradiance estimation in developing countries, the results of this study show that various AI models are suitable for different solar irradiance estimation tasks. However, XG boost has a consistently high performance for all the case studies and is the best model for 10 of the 13 case studies considered in this paper. The result of this study also shows that the prediction of hourly solar irradiance is more accurate for the models when compared to daily average and minutes timestep. The specific performance of each model for all the case studies is explicated in the paper.
energy science and technology; engineering; environmental sciences