Solar and wind farms across the country will trial providing their own short-term generation forecasts, under the funding initiative by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Arena) in partnership with the Australian Energy Market Operator (Aemo).
On behalf of the Australian government, Arena the funding for the projects designed to trial short-term forecasting at major wind and solar farms across Australia.
The winning projects include one by Vestas Australian Wind Technology, which will deploy a forecasting tool that integrates plant level data and other sensors, alongside short-term weather forecasts and meteorological data to provide accurate generation forecasts. The trial will be carried out in South Australia.
The portfolio of 11 projects will involve a range of weather forecasting technologies including onsite cloud cameras that can predict the timing and impact of a passing clouds on a solar farm, wind speed radars, Japanese weather satellites, infrared, crunching of Bureau of Meteorology data and machine learning algorithms.
The trial comprises at least 45% of the National Electricity Market’s (NEM’s) registered wind and solar capacity, which collectively provides a total of 3.5GW of renewable electricity generation.
Arena’s funding will help to explore the potential for wind and solar farms to provide their own, more accurate, forecasts of their output into Aemo’s central dispatch system. Aemo is responsible for forecasting how much electricity will be generated by wind and solar farms, the output of which varies depending on the weather and time of day. If these supply forecasts are wrong or generators can’t meet their target, it can result in power system instability and higher operating costs.
The projects are also intended to enable further capability development, and provide information to the market on delivering forecasts on a five-minute basis. Forecasting technology and factors that affect the accuracy of forecasts in different weather, operational conditions and geographies will also be investigated.
Wind and solar farms are penalised for not meeting a required output level or can be required to curtail their generation to match an overly conservative forecast.
“Much like traditional energy generators, we’re aiming to show that renewable energy is now capable of providing accurate measurement of energy output,” said Arena CEO Darren Miller. “With almost half of all solar and wind power generation taking part in projects in this initiative, this will lead to better deals for wind and solar farms, lower costs and more accurate data for Aemo,” he said.
“Some solar and wind farms will be sites for several different technologies and some technologies will be tested across multiple sites so we will begin to understand the strengths of different approaches in different locations.