Bright forecast

Jon Lawson

Achieving grid stability thanks to accurate solar energy online feed in and forecasts

Following considerable industry demand, an expert in forecasting solutions is setting out to provide accurate online feed-in and forecasts that make solar energy predictable for grid operators and energy trading companies around
the world.

Meteocontrol is well known in the area of independent photovoltaic (PV) monitoring systems. It reliably forecasts and monitors the amount of fed-in solar energy for individual systems and grid areas or even for entire countries. The sophisticated forecasting techniques combine highly precise weather information with the yield data of all of PV systems that the company monitors globally. The exact live online feed in helps to ensure a high level of grid stability and the optimum energy mix.

The company has many years’ experience monitoring PV systems, which in turn gives it access to an enormous quantity of measurement data. As a result, it draws from a highly representative basis for calculating the projected capacity of fed-in power from solar energy. Instead of relying on assumptions, the forecasts draw from real operating data provided by over 43,000 PV systems registered in the Meteocontrol portal that together produce a total installed power output of around 12GW. This gives the firm the ability to compare the predicted energy quantity with the quantity actually generated. Forecasts with exact coordinates provided by national and international weather services are considered in the calculations. With the help of machine learning, the very latest in computer learning methods, the company links this information to the live online feed in and forecasts derived from satellite images to produce an optimum grid prediction. By calculating the current status, the company achieves much higher-quality predictions for intraday forecasts than conventional procedures yield.

Online feed in for the emerging PV markets
“For grid operators, the online feed in and forecasts are extremely important for ensuring stable grids and the optimum power supply. In many European countries, using online feed in and forecasts has already become standard practice as they are also used for market regulation as well as serve as a basis for such remuneration models as the EEG remuneration in Germany,” explains Robert Pfatischer, managing director of Meteocontrol.

“For many years, the four German grid operators have used our forecasts and online feed in. With the current solar boom on every continent around the globe, they’re becoming more important on an international level, too. India, China, the whole of Latin America: these and many other countries and regions have ambitious development targets and need quick, reliable forecasts. And we can provide them.”

Highlighting potential improvements
Using the PV feed-in data collected by Meteocontrol, interesting developments and possible potential for optimisation can be highlighted. The latest evaluation shows that solar-energy production in Germany increased only very slightly over the past three years and was less than the 2.5GW per year needed to achieve the country’s climate targets.

Although fed-in energy reached a record level in 2017, maximum feed-in fell from 72.5% to 72%. One reason for this was bad weather during periods when the maximum solar-energy yield was to be expected from a meteorological point of view. Other reasons include ageing PV systems with reduced efficiency and the feed-in management of grid operators. With precise grid predictions and highly accurate live online feed in, down-regulation can be largely avoided and solar systems are only rarely affected by this. Optimum grid management also reduces the use of conventional generation systems. The company’s aim is to establish this standard in all PV markets worldwide and thus encourage the integration of solar energy.

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