Australian Solar Energy Forecasting System (ASEFS) - Phase 1

This project delivered the Australian Solar Energy Forecasting System (ASEFS), which uses basic techniques to cover all the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) required forecasting timeframes for managing the National Electricity Market (NEM), which range from five minutes to two years.

Lead organisation:
CSIRO
Project partners:
Australian Energy Market Operator, Bureau of Meteorology, University of NSW, University of South Australia, US National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Location:
US; Adelaide, SA; Sydney, NSW; Melbourne, VIC; Canberra, ACT
Technology:
Hybrid and enabling technologies
ARENA program:
Former Australian Solar Institute initiatives and programs
Start date:
January 2013
Finish date:
May 2016

Need

Solar generating capacity in the National Electricity Market (NEM) is rapidly expanding and reaching a stage where proper forecasting will be needed to allow expansion to continue. Accurate supply and demand forecast models are necessary to increase commercial viability and ensure stability of the electricity grid.

Project innovation

This project delivered the first phase of an Australian Solar Energy Forecasting System (ASEFS) to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). The full system will enable the enhanced integration of solar energy generation at all scales into the national grid, allowing operators of larger systems to participate in the market. The system will be configured as an extension to the Australian Wind Energy Forecasting System (AWEFS), which has been successfully operating within AEMO market systems since 2008.

This first phase provides an operational system that uses basic forecasting techniques to cover all the AEMO-required forecasting timeframes, which range from five minutes to two years. The system caters for large-scale photovoltaic and solar-thermal plants as well as distributed small-scale photovoltaic systems.

A number of research institutions provided technical input and undertook research and development on enhancements to the system, including the Bureau of Meteorology, the University of NSW, the University of South Australia and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the US. The involvement of NREL strengthened collaboration between the world’s leading Australian and US researchers in the solar forecasting area.

Benefit

The project produced an advanced operational solar forecasting system. ASEFS provides a system that uses basic forecasting techniques to cover all the AEMO ‐ required forecasting timeframes, which range from five minutes to two years.

Lessons learned

In spite of the Solar Flagships plans and commitments, large ­ scale solar farms (> 30 MW) were only installed towards the end of the ASEFS project. This externality was very difficult to anticipate. It affected the outcome of the project only to the extent that the ASEFS operational system could not be tested on large ­ scale solar farms during the duration of the ASEFS project.

An unexpected rapid increase in the uptake of rooftop solar photovoltaics (PV) has created a growing problem for the balancing of supply and demand: forecast errors have already been experienced in regions like South Australia or South East Queensland, and these may increasingly contribute to severe power quality (frequency) issues.

Final report

Australian Solar Energy Forecasting System Final Report: project results and lessons learned (PDF 5MB)

More information

Short-Term Solar Forecasting with a Sky-Camera

Contact information

Dr John Ward, CSIRO Principal Scientist, Grids & Energy Efficient Systems
Phone:
+61 2 4960 6072
Email:
John.K.Ward@csiro.au