Sheffield University launches three day solar forecasting tool


Sheffield Solar, based in the Department of Physics at the University of Sheffield, has launched a service which provides forecasts for energy generation from photovoltaic (PV) systems in the UK for up to 72 hours ahead.

The research unit is making the tool available for free for a trial period but seeks feedback from traders and generators in order to refine the product.

The service builds on two years’ work with National Grid and is intended to help traders, generators and grid operators balance and optimise the system and their portfolios.

By giving them a better picture of how much power is likely to be generated from the UK’s 12GW of solar PV capacity, total system costs can be reduced. That could result in lower costs for market actors, but also lower electricity bills for some 30 million UK households.

Better data enables more accurate forecasting. This can help generators and traders reduce the penalties they face for getting their supply/demand balance wrong, costs which are passed onto customers.

It could also enable National Grid to spend less on procuring balancing services – paying people to turn on generators or paying them to turn off – which means lower bills all round.

National Grid already uses Sheffield’s real time PV forecasting tool, but the new service allows them, and others, to plan ahead.

Updated frequently, it combines weather forecast data with the data from live generating systems to provide a forecast for the next 72 hours.

The service is currently being trialled on the University of Sheffield’s Sheffield Solar website. The group has plans to develop the service with researchers initially releasing a half hourly forecast, followed by a regional forecast and finally they intend to provide forecasts for individual systems around Great Britain.

Business development manager Aldous Everard told The Energyst that the service may ultimately go beyond half hourly data and into more granular detail, but that Sheffield Solar was keen to receive feedback from users.

“We’re interested in user responses and to find out what traders want so we can further develop the product,” he said. “We’re looking for answers as well.”

Find out more here.

Related stories:

As solar generation makes history, National Grid starts to feel the burn

Solar PV hits 12GW, further 3GW in planning

United Utilities plans £55m solar investment

National Grid procures 138.6MW of demand turn up to balance solar in summer

National Grid to extend demand turn-up running hours, procure more

National Grid says impact of solar requires greater system flexibility

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