Self-forecasting trials predict energy grid inputs for wind & solar power generators

A series of trials will improve the accuracy of solar farm forecasting so the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) can better manage the grid.

Eleven projects will test and develop innovative weather-based technology. Large-scale renewable energy generators can then give AEMO more accurate output forecasts.

So, wind and solar farms can now submit their own five-minute ahead forecasts – just like their fossil-fuelled counterparts. Real-time forecasts will therefore lead to better market outcomes.

Solar farm forecasting funded by ARENA, benefits AEMO

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is contributing more than $9 million to a portfolio of eleven projects.

ARENA funds trials to improve accuracy of solar farm forecasting.

Trials of world-leading technology will help solar farms stabilise the grid by providing more accurate output forecasts.

All wind and solar farms in the National Electricity Market (NEM) will now be able to submit their own five-minute forecasts to AEMO. Improved central dispatch will then lead to more efficient energy provision.

The projects involve a range of world-leading weather forecasting technologies. These include:

  • Wind speed radars
  • Japanese weather satellites
  • Infrared technology
  • Analysis of Bureau of Meteorology data
  • Machine learning algorithms

Renewable generators on par with fossil-fuelled plants

Traditional power plants fired by coal and gas submit five-minute ahead forecasts of output.

Renewable generators are currently penalised for inaccurate forecasts. This is because they lack the technology to forecast accurately.

Utility-scale renewables also need to peg back generation when forecasts are too conservative.

According to ARENA CEO Darren Miller, the trials will place wind and solar energy installations on a par with traditional generators.

This means renewable generators can escape penalties and adjust production more easily. As a result, the grid will also be more secure. That’s because demand can be matched to anticipated renewable supply.

Weather generates ever-increasing supply of electricity

Nearly half of all Australian solar panels and wind power generators will take part in the trials, Miller says. This will give them better deals. It also means lower costs and more accurate forecasting technology.

Miller says solar farm forecasting is a “win-win” for everyone. Better forecasting helps integrate renewables into the grid, and therefore boosts grid stability and reduces costs.

Some wind and solar farms will test several different technologies. Other technology types will also be tested across multiple sites to give the most accurate results.

Renewable generators need the latest technology because weather patterns generate a growing proportion of Australia’s electricity. More households are also installing solar panels and battery storage to take advantage of natural, clean energy.