Weather Forecast Data Becomes More Sought after in the RES Sector

Awareness about overall wind power potential and weather forecasts provides for the design of new and regulation of the operation of existing wind power plants; as well as for equipment service life extension owing to load optimization. The brisk growth of the global wind energy industry has caused energy producers and wind park operators to consider weather conditions in their activities.

Weather forecasts are particularly important for preserving the balance of a grid composed of a combination of conventional and renewable energy sources. Since wind energy and solar energy are particularly dependent on weather conditions, awareness about weather situation streamlines the entire infrastructure operation and allows compensating wind power generation losses with conventional sources. To that end, energy companies are working more closely with weather services. A good example of a real-time weather data supplier is the American MDA Information Systems LLC that supplies WPP and power grid operators with essential 5-day weather forecasts including hourly wind speed data factoring in sudden increases and peak values at wind turbine altitudes (approximately 80 m). Today, operators are informed in advance, e.g., about forthcoming turbine disconnection due to wind speed over the maximum permissible level (over 25 m/s), or whether they should expect lower turbine performance due to freezing rain, etc. A large number of companies offer such services in Europe. EU governments are also interested in raising the quality of energy weather forecasts.  Therefore, in 2015, the Government of Germany commissioned several research institutions to develop a more precise wind speed forecasting methodology applying such data in the energy sector. The launched WindSage project has been instrumental in WPP maintenance cost reduction owing to improved forecast quality.

RES incorporation into the Belarusian energy mix will invariably develop a need for modifying the existing approaches to meteorological support. The sector development plans provide for a 9% increase of the RES share in the national energy mix by 2035, which implicates some provisions on weather forecasting. Thus, in the recent Radio-1 Aktualny Mikrofon programme, Sergey Greben, Manager of the Energy Efficiency, Environment and Science Department of the Ministry of Energy, said that now they are drafting amendments in regulations on energy consumption schedule management with regard to fluctuations in weather-dependent generation by solar and wind power plants.

Measuring all wind parameters at turbine altitudes necessitates installation of measuring equipment at wind measuring masts, or deployment of special radars in the given area.  Subsequent forecasting assumes data processing by powerful computing equipment. At present, in the Republic of Belarus, wind measurements are made by the Republican Centre for Hydrometeorology, Radioactive Contamination Control and Environmental Monitoring (Belgidromet). However, because of the small number of WPPs and correspondingly low demand for labour-intensive weather forecasts, Belgidromet has not made any special forecasts of wind power potential.

The international technical assistance project on Removing Barriers to Wind Energy Development in Belarus arranged for a visit of Belgidromet representatives to the Polish Institute of Meteorology and Water Management for examining the colleagues' experience; there, they reached agreements on the use of Polish weather data for weather forecasting in Belarus, as well as the computing capacity of the Polish weather service's supercomputer.  These measures will help enhance the Belarus weather forecast quality and level of detail, and improve the wind energy sector performance owing to weather information availability.

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