New forecasting tool to improve solar power efficiency

New forecasting tool to improve solar power efficiency

A new solar forecasting service has been developed by a research group at the University of Sheffield.

By predicting the energy given off by the sun, this tool will be able to help increase the efficiency of solar systems and subsequently reduce energy costs.

Sheffield Solar, based in the department of physics at the University of Sheffield, is a service which provides forecasts for energy generation from photovoltaic (PV) systems in the UK, up to 72 hours in advance.

Renewable energy is unquestionably on the rise, and there have been countless examples of this throughout the year. Most recently, in June the UK broke its record for the highest production of both solar and wind energy.

As more and more people turn towards the use of solar photovoltaic systems to get their energy, a need to accurately measure and forecast the sun’s impact is developing.

As energy from the sun cannot be controlled on a day to day basis, the balance of supply and demand in the electricity grid changes constantly.

Uncertainty in forecasting the sun’s power means that standby generators must be used to secure the additional energy generation.

With accurate forecasts the amount of reserve can be reduced, cutting costs for the National Grid and ultimately bill payers.

For the past two years, Sheffield Solar has been working closely with National Grid to develop a tool which estimates the real-time generation from PV systems in Great Britain.

The new service takes things a step further by providing energy managers with a short-term forecast so that they can plan ahead better when deciding which generators will be required throughout the day.

The service is currently being trialled on the University of Sheffield's Sheffield Solar website.

The group has plans to develop the service with researchers initially releasing forecast every half an hour, followed by regional forecasts across Great Britain.