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NYPA Extends Solar Forecasting Network to Albany as Part of Study to Improve Grid Reliability

Advanced Imaging Technology Aims to Improve Solar Generation and Load Forecasting for Utility Operations

Contact: Lynne Smith | lynne.smith@nypa.gov | (914) 681-6916

Part of the team that contributed to the development of Brookhaven Lab's solar base station

Click on the image to download a high-resolution version. Part of the team that contributed to the development of Brookhaven Lab's solar base station at Brookhaven Lab. The station is equipped with instruments for measuring the amount of energy coming from the sun and atmosphere. Utilities need such measurements to improve solar energy forecasting to maintain the stability of the power grid and to efficiently allocate energy resources. Pictured clockwise from left are Brookhaven Lab Environmental and Climate Sciences Department (ECSD) Chair Allison McComiskey, consultant Dong Huang, Stony Brook University graduate student Chenxiao Xu, ECSD technician Gabriel Vignato, ECSD electronics engineer Andrew McMahon, project engineer Thomas McEvaddy of Brookhaven's Modernization Project Office, ECSD computational scientist Richard Wagener, and Brookhaven Meteorological Services Group Leader John Heiser.

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) and several research partners are moving into the final phase of a solar forecasting project, funded at $1.85 million, that will be able to predict solar energy generation in order to improve electric grid reliability and economic efficiency of power systems The innovative solar study supports Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Green New Deal, which puts forth a plan to transition New York State to clean energy and sets the nation’s most ambitious goal for carbon-free power.

“Fully integrating solar power into power system operations will be key in New York State’s transition to renewable energy, but it can be challenging to predict how much energy will be generated on any given day,” said Alan Ettlinger, NYPA’s director of research, technology development and innovation. “NYPA is working with research partners to develop the best technologies to improve forecasting of solar energy output so we can learn how to better maintain grid reliability and ultimately reduce operating costs.”

The forecasting study uses high-definition digital cameras, together with advanced weather modeling and other sources of data, to develop prediction models that can anticipate output from large solar generating facilities and smaller, roof-top, distributed solar resources. The forecasts are based in part upon pictures of the sky analyzed to track the movement of clouds and estimate their impact on solar generation. The information can then be used by power generation operators to provide visibility of changes in solar generation and allow them to respond accordingly.

“Ensuring that renewable energy resources are effectively integrated to the electric grid will help achieve Governor Cuomo’s ambitious clean energy and climate goals for the benefit of all New Yorkers. Developing systems that improve grid reliability and resiliency allow faster integration of renewables and advance the use of cleaner, greener energy statewide,” said Dave Crudele, program manager, Smart Grid Systems and Distributed Energy Integration, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

This final phase of the project will determine the benefit of deploying this innovative forecasting technology across New York State. The newly expanded solar forecasting network in Albany will mirror an already in place set of imagers on Long Island, which have shown promise for improving solar generation and load forecasting for utility operations.

The new solar forecasting equipment will be installed by expert field engineers at the University at Albany, several Albany firehouses, NYSERDA’s headquarters and State Department of Transportation sites, the Albany airport and two additional locations that areto be determined.

The project builds on prior research by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) team including Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), located in Upton, NY. NCAR developed a set of specialized numerical weather prediction models focusing on hours ahead to day-ahead forecasting, as well as machine learning models that utilize recent solar irradiance and weather information to predict the next 1-3 hours of solar irradiance at a location, while BNL developed a sky imager system to determine the movement of clouds and their impact on solar generation within the hour.

In this next phase, BNL will develop and run a forecasting model and modify the algorithms to receive and integrate data from all imagers into a regional very-short-range forecast, for both Albany and the extended Long Island network.

“In addition to expanding the ground-based imager network to the upstate region, we will continue to test and evaluate our solar forecast predictions over a full year to improve confidence in system effectiveness through a full range of seasonal variability,” said Paul Kalb, deputy chair of BNL’s Environmental and Climate Science Department. 

NCAR will utilize this data, together with other data from NYS Mesonet, a statewide network of 126 weather stations operated by the University at Albany, and their advanced numerical weather prediction models and machine learning models to provide a forecast of the distributed and utility scale solar power over the entire state. Scientists at the University’s Atmospheric Sciences Research Center (ASRC) will also provide their expertise and contribute to the data modeling efforts.

Central Hudson, a utility partner, will demonstrate how the results can be integrated into Energy Management Systems and Distribution Management Systems as well as provide situational awareness to operators.

Study results, which will be published in 2022, will help researchers understand the impact of solar power generation on net system load, forecasting and planning for online generation.

“More accurate solar generation forecasting can help address reliability concerns related to the integration of variable renewable resources like solar power,” said Aidan Tuohy, a principle project manager for the Electric Power Research Institute’s (EPRI) Grid Operations and Planning group. “This approach will provide utility operators with localized and system-wide information to efficiently plan and use solar generation in a more cost effective manner.”

“Creating technologies that can improve forecasting for solar energy generation will bring us a step closer to reaching Governor Cuomo’s ambitious goals of economy-wide carbon neutrality,” said Chris Thorncroft, director of the NYS Mesonet and interim director of ASRC. “The NYS Mesonet and ASRC are proud to partner on this project and provide data that will assist utility companies across the state in their decision making.”

The study is funded by NYPA, NYSERDA and the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office, and co-managed by EPRI.

About NYPA

NYPA is the largest state public power organization in the nation, operating 16 generating facilities and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines. More than 70 percent of the electricity NYPA produces is clean renewable hydropower. NYPA uses no tax money or state credit. It finances its operations through the sale of bonds and revenues earned in large part through sales of electricity. For more information visit www.nypa.gov and follow us on Twitter @NYPAenergy, FacebookInstagramTumblr and LinkedIn.

New York State’s Green New Deal

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Green New Deal, the nation’s leading clean energy and jobs agenda, will aggressively put New York State on a path to economy-wide carbon neutrality This initiative will provide for a just transition to clean energy, spurring the growth of the green economy and mandating New York's power be 100 percent clean and carbon-free by 2040, one of the most aggressive goals in the U.S. The cornerstone of this newly proposed mandate is a significant increase of New York's successful Clean Energy Standard to 70 percent renewable electricity by 2030. As part of the unprecedented ramp-up of renewable energy, New York has already invested $2.9 billion into 46 large-scale renewable projects across the state as it significantly increases its clean energy targets, such as: quadrupling New York's offshore wind target to a nation-leading 9,000 megawatts by 2035; doubling distributed solar deployment to 6,000 megawatts by 2025;and deploying 3,000 megawatts of energy storage by 2030. To support this ambitious work, NY Green Bank intends to use its expertise in overcoming financing gaps to foster greater environmental impacts per public dollar by raising over $1 billion in third party funds to expand climate financing availability across New York and the rest of North America.

Reforming the Energy Vision

The Green New Deal builds on Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's landmark Reforming the Energy Vision strategy to lead on climate change and grow New York's economy. REV is building a cleaner, more resilient and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers by stimulating investment in clean technologies like solar, wind, and energy efficiency. Already, REV has driven growth of nearly 1,700 percent in the statewide solar market leveraging nearly $3.4 billion in private investments, improved energy affordability for 1.65 million low-income customers, and has led to more than 150,000 jobs in manufacturing, engineering, and other clean tech sectors across New York State.

To learn more about the Green New Deal and REV,  visit rev.ny.gov, follow us on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.    

2019-16629  |  INT/EXT  |  Newsroom