ARENA Encourages Wind and Solar Farms Operators to Invest in “Self-Forecast” Technologies

Large-scale wind and solar farms operators in Australia are encouraged to invest in technology such as cloud-cams and “nose-cone lidars” which will enhance the accuracy of the output from these weather-dependent and variable energy sources.
An article published on the website of RenewEconomy stated that the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is providing $10 million to aid trial technologies that can deliver the forecasting services, and significantly encore each wind and solar farms to “self-forecast” output 5-minutes ahead and provide the input to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).
The existing forecasting measures are more precise than most people recognize. The forecasts are over 90 percent accurate even on a day ahead basis. The accuracy is normally over 99 percent on short-term forecasts like the 5-minute intervals that are important for dispatch decisions of AEMO.
Operators of wind and solar farms are enthusiastic for the “self-forecasting” because it implies that they can supervise their own output and the expectations of AEMO more precisely and be less subject to either penalties or revenue shortfalls.
Cloud-cams are cameras that monitor approaching clouds and can estimate when and by how much the output of solar farms can be affected. They have been tested at some solar farms in the country such as the Fulcrum3D’s technology at Uterne in Alice Springs and Karratha Airport.
Lidar technology can be installed in the nose-cones of wind turbines in order to more precisely predict short-term wind speeds, thus protecting operators of wind farms from the effects of sudden short-term gusts.
Ivor Frischknecht, the CEO at ARENA, stated that this initiative came from ARENA’s A-Lab innovation workshop in 2017. The said initiative could enable solar farms to be better incorporated into the grid while enhancing grid security and cutting down energy costs.
Frischknecht said, “As more variable renewables enter the market, we need to improve the accuracy of our short-term forecasts so we can anticipate what will happen as a cloud passes over a solar farm or if the winds change.”
“At present, wind and solar farms can be disadvantaged if their available output does not match the central forecast. If the forecasts are too low, wind and solar farms are restricted in how much electricity they can pay to produce,” he further commented.
Read the complete report here.

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