ISO forecasters honored for work on probabilistic solar forecasting

By ISO Staff |

Two California ISO forecasters, Amber Motley and Rebecca Webb, have won a 2022 EPRI Technology Transfer Award for their work examining how probabilistic solar forecasts could be used to support the successful integration of solar power.

EPRI is an independent, non-profit energy research and development organization that is also known as the Electric Power Research Institute. It was founded in Palo Alto, CA in 1972 and has an active presence in more than 45 countries. In announcing the awards, EPRI said it received more than 100 project nominations and selected 21 winners as “the best of the best.” Collaborators in the solar forecasting project from Duke Energy, Hawaiian Electric and Southern Company received the award with Motley and Web.

“The award winners have shown exceptional application of EPRI research and technology in solving a problem of size and significance, championing a technology both within their companies and across the industry, driving progress in the electricity sector, and providing meaningful benefits for their companies’ stakeholders and society,” an EPRI announcement said.

Probabilistic forecasts assist in forecasting uncertainty around solar power availability using numerical weather prediction models in combination with computer modeling of historical and current meteorological data to predict future solar power availability. Such forecasts have been increasingly important in recent years as California and other states integrate more renewables into their bulk power systems because unlike thermal power generation such as natural gas, solar and wind power are variable resources that depend on the weather and time of day. This adds greater uncertainty for operators trying to forecast how much energy will be available on their systems.

“As solar penetration increases, the uncertainty in output can challenge system operations,” the EPRI awards announcement said. “Each of the nominees engaged with EPRI to support various aspects of the modeling and forecasting. Those responsible for forecasting provided relevant data and delivered live forecasts for the utilities. Those responsible for grid operations provided data and support for model development, as well as feedback on the methods and online tool developed, ensuring that results and the tool would be of value to grid operators.

“Project members studied probabilistic methods and quantified benefits under different current and future conditions. For one utility, the methods were applied in their reserve requirement determination. A scheduling management platform was developed to apply the methods in an online tool. This project improved probabilistic forecasts, designed a use case for forecasting, and demonstrated in both simulations and an online tool that forecasts can improve reliability and/or economics of the system.

Using these methods, EPRI said, allows grid operators to reduce their risk, and the work Motley and Webb participated in identified several new, promising approaches for managing solar uncertainty in operations.

“Identifying uncertainty requirements and utilizing requirements in grid operations for planning, reliability, and markets will continue to become increasingly important as the resource mix on the demand and supply side continue to decarbonize,” said Motley. “Partnerships with research partners like EPRI, other grid operators, national labs, and others are critical to continue to advance uncertainty forecasting.” Motley has been at the ISO since 2016 and is senior Manager, Short-Term Forecasting.

Webb, a Forecast Model Analyst Lead who came to the ISO in 2011, added: “Research on refining our current processes is becoming increasingly important. Ensuring we have the tools to assist with the uncertainty that comes with larger amounts of renewable energy is essential to reliability.”

Anna McKenna, the ISO’s vice president for Market Design and Analysis, which includes the forecasting unit, said the recognition from EPRI is another example of the ISO’s leadership role as California and much of the nation transition to cleaner, sustainable electricity.

“Amber’s and Rebecca’s great work will help grid operators throughout our industry,” McKenna said. “I am proud of them and our entire forecasting team, which plays such an important role at the ISO. This is the kind of work that helps keep the ISO as an industry leader in reliably operating a green grid. Kudos to both of them and the entire team for this impressive recognition.”

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