ARENA consults on ‘5-minute ahead’ solar and wind forecasting in Australia

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The Agency is committing up to AU$10 million funding to improve ‘5-minute ahead’ forecasts for wind and solar farms. Credit: ARENA

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is seeking expressions of interest (EOI) for projects to help trial short-term forecasting from large-scale wind and solar farms across Australia.

In partnership with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), the body responsible for forecasting how much electricity will be generated by wind and solar farms, ARENA is seeking to demonstrate how such renewable energy projects can provide more accurate forecasts of their output into AEMO’s central dispatch system.

As part of this, the Agency is committing up to AU$10 million funding to improve ‘5-minute ahead’ forecasts for wind and solar farms operating in the National Electricity Market (NEM).

Under the trial, wind and solar farms will be able to submit their own forecasts to AEMO, allowing local measurements to be combined with AEMO’s modelling to improve the overall accuracy.

ARENA is seeking proposals for projects that:

  • Deliver ‘5-minute ahead’ forecasts
  • Explore the commercial benefits to wind and solar farms of investing in forecasting technology
  • Examine factors that affect the accuracy of forecasts in different weather, operational conditions and geographies

EOIs are sought from generators, forecasting technology companies and turbine and solar panel manufacturers and proposals may include multiple generators and forecasting technologies.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said: “As more variable renewables enter the market, we need to improve the accuracy of our short-term forecasts so we can anticipate what will happen as a cloud passes over a solar farm or if the winds change.

“At present, wind and solar farms can be disadvantaged if their available output doesn’t match the central forecast. If the forecasts are too low, wind and solar farms are restricted in how much electricity they can paid to produce. If forecasts are too high, the wind or solar farm may be obliged to pay for the cost of stabilising, which increases the price of electricity and is ultimately passed on.

AEMO Managing Director and CEO Audrey Zibelman said: “Accurate short-term forecasts are essential for balancing supply and demand, and avoiding grid instability. If we can more accurately predict demand and the output of all types of generation, we expect this will reduce the need for additional frequency control services in the future, which the market pays for.”

EOIs opened today and will be open until 10 May. Successful applicants will be notified in and invited to submit full applications.

Last April, the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) put out a lengthy document detailing the potential impact of introducing five minute settlement into the electricity spot market, which would likely favour flexible resources such as energy storage.

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