Authorities are using weather forecasts for optimise renewable energy output.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced $1 million in funding for Solcast to conduct its Gridded Renewables Nowcasting Demonstration project.

Solcast says it wants to enhance existing weather forecast services by developing a forecasting tool to track and predict renewable output in real time.

Solcast’s forecasting tool will aim to predict up to six hours ahead in five-minute increments, distributed into 1-2km grids across South Australia.

The 12-month project should be able to deliver more frequently updated, high resolution weather forecasts specifically designed for the Australian energy industry.

The system will track the real-time evolution of weather systems over SA and forecast the positions and characteristics of cloud cover, as well as improve predictions of wind-speeds at the wind turbine nacelles (above ground) enabling energy generation to be forecast with greater accuracy.

The forecasts will also focus on six hour ahead forecasting to provide more accurate information for grid operation and enhanced management of generation, energy storage, and demand response.

Solcast is an Australian-based company made up of meteorologists, data scientists and engineers.

Its system will utilise a range of data sets and data streams, including historical surface meteorological measurement data and wind and solar farm weather data, to develop high quality forecasts.

These forecasts will be shared via project partners, Weatherzone and TESLA Asia Pacific, to be assessed and used by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), the local distribution network operator (SA Power Networks), and generator asset operators.

“Renewable generation forecasts, particularly in the intraday time-frame, are critical for effective management of the electricity system with growing shares of large-scale variable renewable energy, energy storage, distributed energy resources and emerging demand management capability which are at the front and centre of innovation in the energy industry,” ARENA CEO Darren Miller says.

“If Solcast’s Nowcasting project delivers positive results for South Australia, we could see it rolled out to the rest of the National Electricity Market as we see growing renewable energy generation in other states and territories.”