The Solar Intermittency Challenge
One of the key challenges to managing the solar energy assets connected to our electricity markets and networks is solar intermittency. The term “Intermittency” captures two aspects of the variability of solar, the first being its change in intensity throughout the day & night, and the second being the impacts of cloud cover. The former is very predictable! The latter, can be quite a challenge.
Cloud Cover Changes Rapidly, Why Shouldn't Your Forecast?
Cloud cover is a fast-changing and fast-moving phenomena. Clouds have widely varying characteristics and they form, change and dissipate within hours, minutes, sometimes even seconds. So when the cloud cover is quickly moving or changing, forecasting solutions also need to be quick, just to keep up! This ability for forecasting solutions to adapt and evolve with the cloud cover conditions is what Solcast refers to as ‘rapid update’ solar forecasting.
What is rapid update forecasting?
Fundamentally, rapid update forecasting means knowing the actual locations and properties of the cloud cover which are present in the region where the target solar assets are operating. This includes knowledge of cloud opacity (thickness), heights, movement and tendency, each of which are actively tracked and re-forecast at regular updated intervals.
How does Solcast produce rapid update forecasts?
Solcast goes all-out when it comes to Rapid Update Forecasts, and include this capability included in *all* of our forecasting products. Using a fleet of five high-resolution weather satellites, we generate over six billion forecasts every hour, with comprehensive global coverage. The first 4 hours of our forecasts update every 10 or 15 minutes with each new satellites scan at 1-2km^2 spatial resolution. For our Utility Scale solar farm products, we push this forecast resolutions even further, with up to 1 minute resolution forecasts available. In producing these 6-billion forecasts, we also rapidly generate ensembles of individual forecasts for each time-step, capturing the uncertainty in any given weather regime via our probabilistic forecasting outputs.
Image description: Rapid update solar forecasting in action over the United Kingdom. This forecasts is from 17th March 2018. The forecast at right and the observed detected cloud at left.
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