The tool is intended for electricity grid operators as well as energy generators and traders
Solar energy is continuously gaining ground, but its high uncertainty affects the balance of supply and demand in the electricity grid, making the installation of standby generators to provide additional reserve capacity necessary. Accurate forecasts however, could ameliorate this problem, reduce the need for reserves and lower costs for the consumers. Now, researchers in the Department of Physics at the University of Sheffield (titled Sheffield Solar) have developed a solar forecasting tool that provides info for energy generation from photovoltaic (PV) systems in the UK for up to 72 hours ahead, a service that could clearly help to increase the efficiency of the electricity system and reduce energy costs. The solar forecasts could be useful to electricity grid operators as well as energy generators and traders who want to have a short term forecast, so that they can better plan ahead in deciding which generators will be required throughout the day.
For the past 2 years, the team has been working closely with National Grid (UK’s system operator) to develop a tool which estimates the real time generation from PV systems in Great Britain. While this service is already in use in National Grid's control room to help to balance the supply of energy with demand, the newly developed tool combines weather forecast data with the data from live generating and with frequent updates to ensure a high quality forecast. It is currently under trial, while the researchers plan to further develop the service, making it possible to initially release a half hourly forecast, followed by a regional forecast and eventually provide forecasts for individual systems around Great Britain.