CloudSAT relies on satellite data in place of on-ground camera hardware and therefore complements the detection available via CloudCAM.
By using satellite data, CloudSAT has significantly broader spatial coverage than CloudCAM. This means longer term predictions can be made as clouds can be seen further away from the location of interest (hundreds to thousands of kilometres). The ability to provide forecasts up to 7 days ahead allows CloudSAT to complement the highly accurate but short term predictions available from CloudCAM. However, CloudSAT has lower temporal and spatial resolution than CloudCAM, meaning that its ability to provide accurate short term predictions is limited.
CloudSAT can provide cloud predictions over large areas (for example cities or regions) at relatively low cost, as well as providing “cloud coverage (%)” statistics. This can be useful in providing forecasts of solar power output from distributed systems across an entire city or state.
Fulcrum3D has developed a technique for integrating satellite imagery to enhance the predictive capabilities of the ground-based CloudCAM system. The below images shows a 200 km radius around Alice Springs. The raw image (left) shows cloud cover over the area; Fulcrum3D’s cloud detection removes background land features to reveal clouds only (centre); and clouds are then categorized as being either light, medium or thick (right).