Working with National Lab, AWS Truepower Makes Headway on Forecasting Improvement Project

AWS Truepower, LLC and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), this week released findings from a multi-phase wind forecasting research project they hope will lead to better wind power generation forecasts, particularly those in the short-term and extreme-event arena.

The multi-phase project, known as WindSENSE and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy program, was designed to develop an observation deployment system and improve wind power generation forecasts. AWS Truepower’s primary role in the WindSENSE forecasting project was to identify the locations and sensor types required to improve short-term and extreme-event forecasts. The team used an “ensemble sensitivity analysis” (ESA) approach to identify specific locations and variables. The study, the company said, resulted in important forecasting tools which alert control room operators of wind conditions and energy forecasts during extreme conditions called ramp events —that is, sharp increases or decreases in wind speed that occur over a short period of time, leading to a large rise or fall in the amount of power generated.

Unexpected ramp events, whose precursors are often not adequately sensed by existing observing systems, can frequently be anticipated an hour or more in advance with a few specific weather variable measurements from key locations. The use of ESA, along with an analysis of a sample of ramp cases, can provide guidance on where and what to measure to improve the prediction of these events.

“We’re trying to forecast wind energy at any given time,” said Chandrika Kamath, the LLNL lead on the project. “One of our goals is to help the people in the control room at the utilities determine when ramp events may occur and how that will affect the power generation from a particular wind farm.”

It is critical that wind forecasts be accurate, especially during ramp events, when the energy can change by more than 1,000 MW within an hour. Accurate alerting systems are in high demand as the percentage of wind energy contributing to the power grid continues to increase and the variable nature of wind challenges grid managers and utilities to maintain generation and load balance.

Carl Levesque is the communications editor at AWEA. This article first appeared in the AWEA Windletter and was reprinted with permission from the American Wind Energy Association.

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Carl is Editor & Publications Manager at the American Wind Energy Association, where has worked since 2006. At AWEA he oversees AWEA's online and print publications including the Wind Energy Weekly, Windpower Update, and other products. He has worked as a journalist in the energy industry as a staff writer for Public Utilities Fortnightly magazine and in the association sector as senior editor at Association Management magazine. He also has covered the home-building industry, where his areas of greatest interest were sustainable development and "smart growth," and has written articles for numerous other publications as a freelance writer. Carl received his B.A. from James Madison University and spent some time in New Orleans teaching as well as working with homeless youth.

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