Artificial Intelligence: AI Will Predict If Clouds Are Likely To Loom Over Solar Panels

August 23, 2021 | Artificial Intelligence, News
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The UK’s National Grid ESO is collaborating with nonprofit Open Climate Fix to design a cloud-solar tracking system.

For all its benefits, solar energy has the major drawback of intermittency, or the sudden suspension of energy generation due to reasons such as clouds blocking out the sun, or when it is night. The UK’s National Grid ESO and non-profit Open Climate Fix have joined hands to develop an AI-powered tracking system that will track clouds and match them with solar installations in their path. (TheStar)

Dur to solar intermittency, power grid operators have to keep fossil-burning power plants that back up the grid when solar generation is down. These arrangements are expensive and raise the cost of power ultimately supplied to the consumer. If solar shutdowns can be accurately predicted so can energy shortfalls to the grid. This can allow for fine-tuning and optimizing backup plants.

“If you’re more confident in your forecast, then you don’t need to have as big of a buffer,” says Carolina Tortora, head of innovation strategy and digital transformation at National Grid ESO. “There are a million other issues, but this is a big one.”

Video showing energy production of PV systems in the UK as clouds move overhead (Credit: Open Climate Fix)

How the project will work

As a starting point, data is being collected on all the solar installations across the country, including those on rooftops.

Open Climate Fix will use AI to analyze this data in conjunction with satellite imagery of cloud formations and movements. It will then predict how clouds will impact specific solar panels.

Grid control room operators can hope to get this data within six months, and thereby get a better handle on incoming power in real-time.

They can take immediate rear guard actions such as powering on standby batteries. It will also allow for cutting down on fossil power and fossil fuel reserves.

Related Story:  Berkshire Hathaway To Use Zesty’s AI-Driven Climate Risk Analysis

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