AEMO helps improve renewable energy output through weather ”Nowcasting”

4 min

Each year, with the increase of extreme weather events and penetration of renewables on the grid, we’re seeing changes in the way we need to operate the power system. The ability to forecast these conditions accurately is becoming more important as we work to deliver safe and reliable energy to all Australians.


As a result of this, and extensive works done over the past two years by AEMO’s Operations Forecasting team that identified a limit to the accuracy of wind, solar and demand forecasts due to the unpredictability of weather forecasts, AEMO has teamed up with industry stakeholders on a project that will lead the way for the next generation of energy forecasting.

Announced last week on behalf of the Australian Government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) are providing Solcast with $994,685 in funding to conduct its Gridded Renewables Nowcasting Demonstration project. The 12-month project will deliver more frequently updated, high resolution weather forecasts specifically designed for the Australian energy industry.


Through the innovative live demonstration of gridded, automatic weather forecasts in South Australia (SA), Solcast aims to enhance existing forecasting services by developing a proof of concept demonstration of a forecasting tool which will help to track and predict renewable output in real time.


As part of its commitment and support of the project, AEMO will undertake a key role in testing and verifying the project outputs.


“Situational awareness and operational forecasting are critical functions for AEMO as the generation fleet becomes increasingly weather dependent,” said Matthew Clemow, AEMO’s acting Chief Operations Officer.


“We are confident that through this initiative, Solcast, backed by ARENA, will provide enhanced forecasting products and services to support AEMO’s role in shaping a better energy future for all Australians.”


Solcast will utilise a range of data sets and data streams, including historical surface meteorological measurement data, and wind and solar farm weather data, to develop high quality forecasts. These forecasts will be shared via project partners, Weatherzone and Tesla Asia Pacific, to be assessed and used by AEMO, the local distribution network operator (SA Power Networks), retailers, and generator asset operators.


“South Australia is the ultimate test bed for this Nowcasting project.  It has world leading penetrations of wind and solar generation together with very weather dependent demand.  High summer temperatures in particular are an aspect of the South Australian climate that, at times, presents some very challenging operational conditions.” said Mike Davidson, AEMO’s Manager Operational Forecasting.


“Over the next 18 months, AEMO’s Operational Forecasting team will be testing the use of the improved forecasts in our day-to-day forecasting activities, including utilising them as an additional source of information during the critical summer operations period.”


A number of products are being trialled using the improved weather Nowcasts from Solcast. The products that will be tried and tested by AEMO include:


                     Enhanced weather forecasts from Weatherzone that will feed into our demand forecasting system for the NEM and help with weather-based risk assessment

                     Wind forecasts from Weatherzone that will complement the existing wind forecasts in the Australian Wind Energy Forecasting System (AWEFS), providing critical risk and uncertainty information

                     Demand forecasts from Tesla Forecasting, which build on Operational Forecasting’s consensus approach to demand forecasting, where we utilise a number of demand forecasts to help inform our decision making and risk analysis

                     Enhanced solar forecasts (both rooftop-PV and large-scale solar) from Solcast that will complement the existing solar forecasts from the Australian Solar Energy Forecasting System (ASEFS)


AEMO looks forward to supporting the project and working with Solcast on this highly innovative initiative.


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