Storm Minerva hits solar power generation in Italy


The low-pressure system, named Minerva by the Italian Meteo Aeronautica Militare, has brought heavy rain and intense winds to Italy and surrounding countries this week, causing widespread damage and tragic loss of life.

Spring brings a confluence of factors that can cause these events. Increased solar irradiance warms the ocean and land masses, creating a boundary layer of warm air. But winter-time cold airmasses have not yet fully retreated north, and if weather patterns push these airmasses together, they mix violently and a low-pressure system like Minerva can result.

On Tuesday 16th of May, Minerva was centered over Italy. Solcast was tracking the system's clouds in real-time to monitor and forecast solar production, and the rotation of the low-pressure system is clearly visible in these Solcast GHI maps. Total daily irradiance values were low, particularly in northern Italy and the west coast.

Consequently, solar PV production in Italy and the TransnetBW ISO region in southern Germany was significantly depressed from previous days. Conversely, wind power trended high, due to the intense and widespread nature of the system.

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Solcast produces these figures via its irradiance forecasting and weather API by tracking clouds and aerosols at 1 to 2 km resolution globally using satellite data and proprietary AI/ML algorithms. This data is used to drive irradiance models, enabling Solcast to calculate irradiance at high resolution, with typical bias of less than 2%, and also cloud-tracking forecasts. This data is used by more than 300 companies managing over 150 GW of solar assets globally.

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