ARENA commits $10 million to trial short-term forecasting

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Up to $10 million in funding is being committed by ARENA on behalf of the Australian government in a bid to help wind and solar farms operating in the National Electricity Market (NEM) to improve ‘5-minute ahead’ forecast of their output.

Alongside the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), ARENA is looking to help wind and solar farms provide more accurate forecasts of what they can feed into AEMO’s central dispatch system.

So far, AEMO has been responsible for predicting how much energy from intermittent sources could be generated. However, as part of the trial run by ARENA, wind and solar farms will be able to submit their own forecasts, which will be combined with AEMO’s modeling, thus improving the accuracy.

Proposals for projects that will deliver the ‘5-minute ahead’ forecasts are expected to explore the commercial benefits that wind and solar farms could get out of investing into forecasting technology, as well as examine factors that affect the accuracy of forecasting in different situations such as weather, geographies and operational conditions.

“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,” Ivor Frischknecht, ARENA CEO said.

Therefore, the initiative’s goal is to allow wind and solar farms to be better integrated into the grid, while balancing supply and demand.

“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 stabilizing, which increases the price of electricity and is ultimately passed on,“ he added.

Expressions of Interest will open on 28 March 2018 until 9 May 2018. Successful applicants will be notified in June 2018 and invited to submit full applications.