Energy Department Awards $12M To Boost Solar Forecasting

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced $12 million in new funding for eight projects to advance predictive modeling capabilities for solar generation. The DOE says these models will lead to more accurate forecasts of solar generation levels, enabling utilities to better manage the variability and uncertainty of solar power and improve grid reliability.

“These projects will address a critical gap in our research, which is knowing precisely how much solar electricity to expect at any given hour on any given day,” states U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. “These tools are becoming more important as the solar industry continues to grow and will work to ensure that solar contributes to the reliability, affordability, and resilience of our nation’s electric grid.”

According to the DOE, the new funding will advance solar forecasting technologies in a coordinated way with partnerships between national labs, universities, and industry. Four projects are aimed at making significant advances in predicting solar generation. Another project at the University of Arizona will build a testing framework to allow industry and academia to evaluate and compare the performance of advanced models according to a transparent set of rules and metrics.

Finally, three projects will study the integration of advanced forecasting technologies with grid planning and operations systems in partnership with the California Independent System Operator, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. The DOE says this research will validate whether these technologies can be efficiently integrated into energy management systems and enhance grid operation efficiency, while working to identify any future research needs.

The DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office supports early-stage research and development to improve the reliability and performance of solar technologies. This new $12 million DOE investment will spur an additional $2.6 million of private-sector funding through cost share requirements, yielding a total public and private investment of over $14.6 million. View the full list of project awardees here.

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