Fraunhofer Institute Develops Better Model For Forecasting Renewable Energy Generation

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The Fraunhofer Institute, in cooperation with the German weather service, has designed a better model for forecasting the generation of renewable electricity.

The inherent variable nature of renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar means that it is not always easy for a transmission operator to predict the electricity that will be on its network. Simply put, the wind doesn’t always blow, and the sun doesn’t always shine. However, to combat this, the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology (IWES), in cooperation with Germany‘s National Meteorological Service in Offenbach, have developed a new model for forecasting the generation of renewable electricity, and this week, they have launched a new platform for transmission system operators to test the new models live.

The new models provide improved forecasts, accurate up to each quarter-hour, showing how much electricity Germany’s installed solar PV and wind facilities will generate over the next few hours, or days.

“It’s crucial for us to interconnect both worlds – forecasts of weather and power – more closely than before, tailoring them better to the requirements of the transmission system operators,” said Dr. Malte Siefert of IWES, and project manager of the EWeLiNE project. “It’s important to forecast how much renewable power will be generated, because that tells us how much conventional generation capacity – whether nuclear, gas, or coal – needs to be brought online. At the same time, the forecast is necessary for calculations to keep the power grid stable and for trading electricity.”

The new demonstration platform “EnergyForecaster” depicts forecasts for the feed of renewable energies in general (left) and for photovoltaics and wind energy in particular (right). Over all, more than 20 different warnings and forecasts can be displayed.

The Fraunhofer Institute and German Meteorological Service launched the new demonstration platform, called EnergyForecaster, this week, which includes new forecasting tools available direct to transmission system operator control centers. EnergyForecaster helps system operators calculate precisely how much wind and solar is being fed into the grid, and into which grid nodes it is being fed. The new system also provides information on the reliability of the forecasts.

“The transmission system operators also have to be aware of any critical weather conditions – for example, patches of low stratus or low-pressure zones – so they can better analyze and estimate the forecast results,” explained Siefert.

System operators aren’t the only one planning to modify how they forecast better, with Germany’s Meteorological Service also planning to adapt its forecasts to meet the needs of power forecasting.

“We performed detailed meteorological analyses of the occasions when forecasts of power feed-ins to the grid proved most inaccurate. From these analyses we then derived improvements to our weather models,” said Dr. Renate Hagedorn of Germany‘s National Meteorological Service. “With the systematic adaptation of our weather forecasts as a basis for wind and photovoltaic power forecasts for the electric grid, the German weather service has taken on a new and supplementary role.”

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Joshua S Hill

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