‘Self-forecasting’ is the future for solar

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The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) is now allowing solar farm operators to ‘self-forecast’ their energy generation. The change will enable operators to save costs by reducing the volume of frequency control services, and it will help to better manage supply and demand across the National Electricity Market (NEM).

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is funding an operational trial in which eight of Australia’s solar farms are partnering with solar forecasting company Solcast to produce five minute forecasts. The forecasts will then be submitted to AEMO operationally by project partner Dispatch Solutions.

Historically, AEMO has been responsible for forecasting how much electricity will be generated by renewable generators, however these technologies have resulted in higher than expected costs for solar farm operators.

“Ultimately, this is about both energy and financial security,” Solcast CTO Dr Nick Engerer said.

“It is an energy security issue at the market level, as the utility scale solar segment is adding multiple gigawatts of generating capacity each year. With each new solar farm, the importance of accurate forecasts grows.”

The Manildra Solar Farm, developed and operated by First Solar, features in the project, and will begin submitting self-forecasts to AEMO from the project by the middle of this year.

“This is about building the solar future,” Mr Engerer said. “We’ve aimed to bring as many partners onside as possible, so that we can quickly get the best forecasting technologies operating in the NEM.”

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