Cloud chasing to predict the sunny days ahead.

By Oliver Townsend Jun 26, 2024
Tracking clouds to forecast the solar future.jpegOrginal image from: https://www.energyglobal.com/special-reports/26062024/tracking-clouds-to-forecast-the-solar-future/

Solar photovoltaic (PV) energy is rapidly becoming one of the primary sources of energy around the world, with projections indicating significant growth in the coming years. As solar energy continues to gain momentum, the ability to accurately forecast solar production becomes essential for developers, operators, traders, and grid operators. By tracking clouds and utilizing advanced technologies, companies can harness the power of solar energy more effectively and build reliable grids powered by renewables.

The Increasing Role of Technology

From rooftop systems to utility-scale solar farms, digitalization and digital twin technologies play a crucial role in improving efficiency and performance. To meet the growing demands of the industry, companies need access to API-enabled solar data sources with global capabilities. By embracing digital tools, businesses can streamline operations, increase profitability, and pave the way for a net-zero future.

Improved Capabilities through Next-Generation Satellites

High-resolution satellite images have revolutionized the accuracy of solar irradiance data by enabling precise cloud tracking. The latest generation of geostationary weather satellites has significantly enhanced spatial, temporal, and spectral resolution, resulting in a 20-30x improvement overall. By combining satellite images with other weather inputs, companies like Solcast can generate accurate solar-specific forecasts crucial for the renewable energy industry.

Building Accuracy through Intelligent Models

Solcast’s focus on developing models at native satellite resolution allows for detailed cloud tracking and accurate solar irradiance data. By updating data every five or 10 minutes at a resolution of 1-2 km, Solcast significantly surpasses traditional weather forecast models in both frequency and accuracy. Additionally, the company’s 3D cloud modeling provides insights into cloud behavior, further enhancing the precision of solar forecasts.

Enhancing Predictions with Additional Factors

Aside from cloud tracking, factors like aerosols and albedo can impact solar generation significantly. Solcast utilizes various models and algorithms to forecast irradiance with industry-leading accuracy, including tracking local aerosols and analyzing surface reflectivity. By processing millions of forecasts every hour, Solcast can provide precise estimates up to 14 days ahead for almost every location on Earth, ensuring reliable and efficient solar energy production.

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