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German Model Predicts How Much Renewable Energy Will Enter the Grid


German experts developed mathematical models, which promise to predict, with great precision, how much renewable energy will be generated in the coming hours and days.

Arguably, one of the major reasons why renewable energy has not taken over the world, is that the sources are unreliable. No matter how great the capacity of the latest solar or wind farms is, if there is no sun, or no wind, power will not be generated. Because of this, fossil fuel advocates insist that we still need the conventional polluting coal power plants as a back up. They claim that such power stations need to be continuously on stand-by to supply the necessary power to the grid.

A team of experts from the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology (IWES) and the German Weather Service, aim to minimize the “element of surprise”. They do this by developing mathematical models that predict how much renewable energy can be expected to feed the grid in the following hours or months. This can then help the industry make better planning, and estimate how much back-up power would be required and when. The models use weather information, which is translated into energy generation forecast- in other words, turn weather forecast into electricity forecast.

The work is conducted under the EWeLiNE project, which has began in 2012. Now, four years later, the partners proudly present their newly launched platform for transmission system operators. This platform will help both users and developers assess the accuracy of the models and see how well they work in reality. According to the project manager at IWES, Dr Malte Siefert, the platform will provide the much needed information to the transmission system operators, helping them maintain the power grid.

In general, transmission system operators, also known as the companies that operate the major power lines in the country, have a very good idea of how much energy is used by the grid customers. The companies also know how many photovoltaic and wind systems feed the grid. What they do not know, however, is how much energy will these systems produce on any given day, or in the coming days.

The test platform, called EnergyForecaster, gives this precise information. With this, companies can plan ahead how much back up energy will be needed from gas, coal or nuclear. In addition to this, the forecast would help maintaining the stability of the grid, and assist trading operations. The platform also provides  information on critical weather conditions.

The guys behind EnergyForcaster believe that this test platform will help them optimize the models. It is set to help the German government reach their goal of 35% renewable energy generation by 2024. In the future, they believe that these models will prove useful in many other fields as well.

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