UniSA Develops New Forecasting Technology for Renewables

A new short-term weather forecasting technology is being developed by Australian researchers in the hopes of accurately predicting output five minutes in advance.
A report published on the Renew Economy website states that the project costs $A 1.2 million and has officially begun last week. It will utilise the data collected by real-time sky cameras, satellite images, and statistical modeling in order to devise a short-term forecasting model to come up with more precise weather forecasts.
The University of South Australia is concentrating on the statistical modeling component of the project. It works with colleagues from CSIRO, the University of New South Wales, and Genex Power.
John Boland, Professor of Environmental Mathematics in the University if South Australia started that the country’s renewable energy sector has spent approximately $5 million in the past decade due to erroneous short-term forecasts in wind and solar generation. He affirmed the value of precise forecasting by mentioning that it would help solar farms with battery storage capabilities know when they can best sell or store their electricity.
He said, ”Accurately forecasting the output of grid-connected solar systems is critical to increasing the overall penetration of solar and renewables. This is important for the stability and management of the electrical system as a whole.”
The project, which will last for 18 months, will apply short-term solar forecasting systems at five solar farms situated in Victoria, Queensland, and New South Wales.
Professor Boland is hopeful that the five systems would be in operation by the end of the year in order to complete a full year of testing the forecasting tool before the project ends.
He further claimed that the five-minute pricing system in Australia was as short or even shorter compared to anywhere else around the globe, which makes the country the perfect venue for developing the forecasting tool.
”Because of the type of the market we’ve got here, it really invigorates the research area to get things right so it will probably be better than anywhere else in the world because it presents more difficulties and opportunities, ” he added.
Other projects which are also funded through the Advancing Renewables Program of ARENA will keep a through study of forecasting for wind farms.
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), according to Professor Boland, had already used a forecasting method for a longer time scale, and it was based on a system used in Europe for wind forecasting.
He stated that when forecasts are scaled down to five minutes, it gets difficult.
”But that’s the time scale the market works on in Australia, so if the energy market operator can know better what all the possible generators are going to produce in the next five minutes, then they can manage the system much more robustly.”
”When that happens, it not only makes it easier to manage the system but it makes it easier to keep the wholesale prices down as well,” he concluded.
South Australia is leading the country in the uptake of wind energy and rooftop solar with renewable sources with over half of the electricity generated in the state.
Read the complete report here.

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