Category Archives: Solar Power

UniSA Testing Forecast Technology

All of the solar panels on the Gold Coast prices are reliant on a steady source of solar energy, meaning that accurate weather forecasts are key to the market. In recognition of that, the University of South Australia has developed a new form of forecast technology, which is currently undergoing testing.

The $1.2m system is currently being tested by the university’s teams, in order to see if it can boost solar efficiency, to help with solar panels on the Gold Coast prices, by providing more accurate predictions of weather phenomena. The model is aimed at predicting weather from 5 minutes, up to 1-2 hours.

This model is important due to the fact that the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) matches electricity demand and supply in the country every five minutes. This means that large-scale solar power producers need to be informed on how much output they should expect in five minute intervals, ideally, in order to be competitive on the market. To that end, it’s important that they’re informed about the weather.

Professor John Boland, one of the researchers from UniSA, says that the aim is to produce an industry-best forecast tool, which will improve the reliability of renewable energy sources, which, in turn, would cut down electricity prices.

The project trial will be run on five solar farms in Victoria, and Far North Queensland. Researchers have selected the farms known for their particularly volatile weather conditions. A range of technologies will be used as part of the trial, which include, among others, skyward-facing cameras that possess machine vision algorithms, which allow them to keep track of, and make forecasts on cloud motion.

Boland says that greater forecasting accuracy is paramount for the renewable energy industry. Improved accuracy, he says, won’t just help with increasing the commonness of solar panels, but also improve the stability of the electricity network at large, which, in turn, would make managing the grid easier.  The improved management of the grid will help in cutting down energy prices for customers.

Boland and his team aims to produce forecasts that’s more aligned with actual solar output, and, to that end, they’ll be working with CSIRO, the University of New South Wales, as well as Genex Power Ltd. The trials of the new system is being funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).