Monday, September 10, 2012

More wind power needs better forecasting ... and more traditional capacity

This is an informative article.  I found it interesting that the writer, Gerard Wynn, is noted as being a Reuters analyst, but this work is cited as his own.
The article perhaps lacked the certainly on 'news', or perhaps conflicts with the Thomson world-view.

More wind power needs better forecasting | ArabNews:
LONDON: One way to cut the cost of greater reliance on wind power is to improve day-ahead weather forecasting, to make it less expensive for grid operators to balance national demand and supply.

As countries seek to meet renewable energy targets, extra costs include subsidies, direct grid connection, backup reserves to cover intermittency and short-term grid balancing.

Short-term balancing adds costs both for grid operators, which have to pay power plants to turn off or to meet excess demand, and for generators switching on and off units designed for constant, baseload operation.

Renewable power will add to balancing costs by increasing uncertainty, for example when excess wind power has to be shut down on windy days or is dispatched to the grid unexpectedly.
Wind power in particular has an impact because its access to the grid is all but guaranteed, as a power source with zero marginal costs that can force out thermal fossil fuel generation.
Continue Reading at Arab News

Contrasting with the various views, and implied uncertainty, from this article is a report that Germany's Renewable Energy Agency paid back 7 billion euros in 2011 - the cost was 13.5 billion more but it was offset by, most significantly "local value added" of 7.5 billion euros, and "avoided environmental damage" of 8 billion euros.
I get the feeling the envirnomental damage figure is calculated by writing down whatever figure is needed to show a ned benefit.

Judith Curry's Climate Etc. had a write-up recently on "The weatherman is not a moron" - uncertainty is accepted by the weatherman, which is a large reason forecasts have improved.

The Weather Service has struggled over the years with how much to let the public in on what it doesn’t exactly know. In April 1997, Grand Forks, N.D., was threatened by the flooding Red River, which bisects the city. Snowfall had been especially heavy in the Great Plains that winter, and the service, anticipating runoff as the snow melted, predicted that the Red would crest to 49 feet, close to the record. Because the levees in Grand Forks were built to handle a flood of 52 feet, a small miss in the forecast could prove catastrophic. The margin of error on the Weather Service’s forecast – based on how well its flood forecasts had done in the past – implied about a 35 percent chance of the levees’ being topped.The waters, in fact, crested to 54 feet. It was well within the forecast’s margin of error, but enough to overcome the levees and spill more than two miles into the city. Cleanup costs ran into the billions of dollars, and more than 75 percent of the city’s homes were damaged or destroyed. Unlike a hurricane or an earthquake, the Grand Forks flood may have been preventable. The city’s flood walls could have been reinforced using sandbags. It might also have been possible to divert the overflow into depopulated areas. But the Weather Service had explicitly avoided communicating the uncertainty in its forecast to the public, emphasizing only the 49-foot prediction. The forecasters later told researchers that they were afraid the public might lose confidence in the forecast if they had conveyed any uncertainty.
It's hard to see how the cost picture will improve for renewables unless the uncertainty is acknowledged, and attempts are made to reduce it.

Perhaps the idiot's refrain in Ontario that "clean wind is replacing dirty coal" could be detrimental to achieving anything - aside from flooding our countryside with turbines.

The issues are well understood, and where there is respect for transparency and a concern for consumer costs, they are being addressed:

Strategies and Decision Support Systems for Integrating Variable Energy Resources in Control Centers for Reliable Grid Operations: Global Best Practices, Examples of Excellence and Lessons Learned
That document notes the import of 'switchboarding' - which is the interface connecting operators, enormous amount of incoming data, operating procedures, etc...

The paper survey many system operators, but Ontario's was not included.

In June the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC - US) held a 3 day conference: Increasing Real-Time and Day-Ahead Market Efficiency Through Improved Software.
There is no evidence of participation from Ontario's system operator that I perceived there either, although there was a contribution from the University of Waterloo

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