ARENA funds forecasting tool for renewable energy market

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The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced an investment of nearly A$$1m (US$690,000) in a gridded renewable energy nowcasting demonstration project, with Sydney-based company Solcast.

Solcast said its aim is to enhance existing weather forecast services by developing a proof-of-concept demonstration of a forecasting tool that will track and predict renewable output in real time. The goal is to predict up to six hours ahead in five-minute increments, distributed into 1-2km grids across South Australia (SA).

The company stated that the 12-month project will deliver more frequently updated, high-resolution weather forecasts specifically designed for the Australian energy industry. It added that the system will track the real-time evolution of weather systems over SA and forecast the positions and characteristics of cloud cover, as well as improve predictions of windspeeds at the wind turbine nacelles (above ground) enabling energy generation to be forecast with greater accuracy. The forecasts will also focus on six hour ahead forecasting to provide more accurate information for grid operation and enhanced management of generation, energy storage, and demand response.

The forecasts will utilize a range of data sets and data streams, including historical surface meteorological measurement data and wind and solar farm weather data, to develop high quality forecasts. These forecasts will be shared via project partners Weatherzone and Tesla Asia Pacific, to be assessed and used by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), the local distribution network operator (SA Power Networks), and generator asset operators.

The initiative aims to provide the energy industry with enhanced situational awareness and more precise forecasts to support the management of the grid. As part of its commitment and support of the project, AEMO will undertake a key role in testing and verifying the project outputs.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said that by improving the accuracy of forecasts, Solcast’s project could help solar and wind farms, networks as well as the grid overall: “Renewable generation forecasts, particularly in the intraday time-frame, are critical for effective management of the electricity system with growing shares of large-scale variable renewable energy, energy storage, distributed energy resources and emerging demand management capability which are at the front and center of innovation in the energy industry.”

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