Saturday, 27 October 2012

CSIRO in funding bid to predict solar power flow
24 Oct 2012

We may be a nation of sun-worshippers but when it comes to forecasting where the sun shines longest, Australia's energy authorities are stuck in the dark ages.

The CSIRO is hoping to fill that information void with a lot more riding on it than the best place to get that tan. Energy energy suppliers-current and future-need the data to predict how much solar electricity is likely to flow through the nation's power grids.

For potential developers of large-scale solar power plants, radiation records are needed to bolster investment certainty as they try to secure finance from bankers or government agencies. The real urgency for hard numbers, though, is coming from the rapid take-up of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, with the total now approaching 900,000 across the country.

"It's essentially an unknown quantity what those cities full of roof-top PV are producing and we'd like to be able to forecast it", said Peter Coppin, the senior renewable energy researcher leading CSIRO's bid. The Australian Solar Institute, due to be rolled in to the larger Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) at the end of the year, has earmarked funds for solar resource forecasting techniques.

The ASI funding will be announced within weeks with CSIRO and its partners' bid seen likely to succeed. The institute co-sponsored a talk yesterday by Dr Coppin at the Sydney offices of law firm Baker and McKenzie.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), a member of the bid consortium along with the Bureau of Meteorology, installed an advanced forecasting system for wind four years ago to help it manage a big increase in wind farms.

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