Feds Steady Renewable Energy Industry By Forecasting the Variables

WASHINGTON, DC, January 2011 (ENS) – Better information on weather patterns plus improved modeling of the variable wind, sun, water and ocean currents will enable more efficient integration of these renewable energy sources into the electrical grid, the goal of a new collaboration between the Department of Energy and the Department of Commerce.

An agreement signed Monday by Acting Under Secretary of Energy Cathy Zoi and Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, establishes a framework for cooperation to develop and disseminate weather and climate information needed for renewable energy technologies that are dependent on short-term weather and longer-term climate trends.

Operator at the California ISO streams electricity from all sources into the power grid. (Photo courtesy California ISO)

“Our ability to increase America’s supply of renewable energy is based in part on our ability to predict and harness precipitation, wind and cloud patterns,” said Lubchenco. “Observations, forecasts and climate information tailored to the needs of the renewable energy industry will promote growth of this vital sector.”

The partnership is intended to help renewable energy system designers, operators, and electric power system administrators to improve the cost effectiveness and reliability of weather-dependent renewable energy technologies.

“This collaboration will bring together scientists and experts across the federal government to support our efforts to integrate renewable energy into our power system,” said Zoi.

“By providing us with a deeper understanding of how weather impacts the generation of renewable energy,” she said, “this partnership will help to more effectively deploy these important resources across America.”

Reports from both agencies have recognized the need for improved forecasting and modeling of variables that affect renewable energy generation.

For example, the Department of Energy’s “20% Wind Energy by 2030” report identifies several key research areas, such as improved wind forecasting techniques, that would enhance electrical grid system operations.

NOAA’s “Next Generation Strategic Plan” states that NOAA will develop integrated environmental information services for the unique needs of weather-sensitive sectors, including solar, wind, and oceanographic information critical to the development, production, and transmission of renewable energy.

A working group drawn from both agencies will produce an Action Plan in the coming months that will address:

  • Improving renewable resource characterization models and methods for optimizing system reliability and performance
  • Advancing meteorological and oceanic forecasting technologies, models and methods
  • Defining national weather and oceanic monitoring systems needed to support renewable energy
  • Predicting climate effects on renewable energy resources
  • Coordinating public and private sector contributions to addressing renewable resource needs

Under the partnership, both agencies agree to provide the necessary resources to coordinate or carry out the designated tasks outlined in the Action Plan.

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