In a project entitled ‘Sheffield Solar’, researchers at the university are working closely with National Grid, the UK’s national grid operator, to develop a service that can forecast PV generation up to 72 hours in advance, to the benefit of grid operators, as well as self-consumers and energy traders.
Both in the UK, which enjoyed its first ‘coal free days’ in May and June of this year, and in other regions, renewable energy is beginning to account for a significant proportion of overall generation. With this comes the need for solutions to the inherent intermittency of renewable energy generation, to ensure that the grid can remain balanced.
Monitoring and forecasting energy production is one way to mitigate the effects of this – having advanced knowledge of pv output could allow operators to make more efficient use of reserve capacity from storage or conventional generation sources.
The Sheffield Solar team previously worked with the National Grid on a tool which estimates real-time generation from PV systems, and is now taking this a step further, by combining live output data with weather forecasts in order to accurately estimate future output. The tool is still being developed, and a free version is available until October 31st at the project’s website.
The team now plans to take the project further, and states that they are working on plans to provide forecasts on a regional basis, and for individual PV systems.