A new, more accurate system of forecasting wind power and the energy from wind farms will help cut carbon pollution and save money, the National Grid has said.
The company is responsible for balancing the supply and demand on the country’s electricity networks and, with growing amounts of energy being generated by wind, the ability to predict when the wind will blow is becoming increasingly important.
By 2020 onshore and offshore wind is expected to generate 28GW of power, almost a third of the UK electricity supply.
Because wind is intermittent, having more accurate forecasts of wind farm output will help the UK make the most of this renewable resource and reduce the amount of energy needed for reserves, such as gas.
Less reliance on fossil fuels will mean less carbon is emitted, the National Grid said.
More accurate wind forecasts will reduce the need for “balancing” steps to ensure electricity demand is met, which cost the National Grid £280M last year and are set to rise in cost to £500M a year by 2020.
The new system produces more forecasts for each location and looks at more sites and regional zones. It also produces the forecasts in several ways and has a lower margin of error than the old system, the National Grid said.
Wind forecasting is critical to predicting wind farm output. The amount of electricity generated rises from nothing, at very low wind speeds, to a maximum output until the turbines cut out in high winds.
Alan Smart, National Grid energy operations manager, said: “At the moment there is about 5GW of installed wind generation in the UK and this set to grow by about 2GW a year for the next five years. Hence, it’s becoming more important for us to be able to predict output within a quite narrow spectrum of weather conditions.”