Solar power: Busting the problem of cloud cover?

Posted: September 18, 2021 by oldbrew in Clouds, Energy
Tags: ,

Image credit: MIT

Of course ‘busting the problem’ of zero nighttime output isn’t going to happen. Vague references to ‘other sources’ of power attempt to gloss over such glaring issues.
– – –
The downside to solar power is that it’s not always sunny and so grid operators have to compensate for energy drops by bringing alternative generation sources online, says TechXplore. [Talkshop comment – every time clouds appear?].

New research in the International Journal of Powertrains, looks at how short-term forecast of sunshine using satellite images could offer one tool to help power companies maintain a steady supply.

A. Shobana Devi of the Sathyabama Institute of Science and Technology, in Chennai, India and colleagues explain how solar irradiance forecasting currently represents a major challenge to companies hoping to integrate solar energy resources into the existing structures of energy supply.

Fundamentally, it is the vagaries of changing cloud cover that compromise the power output of solar panels. [Talkshop comment – ignoring nighttime].

However, it might be possible to compensate for the problem if there were a way to predict cloud movements within a fifteen to ninety-minute window throughout the day.

The team has developed an approach using the long short-term memory (LSTM) technique and tested it against known satellite imagery and the power output of a 250-megawatt solar plant to show that the predictions can be sufficiently accurate to allow grid operators to balance power output from solar and other sources.

Their tests demonstrate that this approach is more accurate than other methods when tested against cloud cover data accumulated over a seven-month period.

Statistical regression models allow them to assess the efficacy of the various models tested.

“The results of experiments verify and affirm that over current techniques, our suggested algorithms can considerably enhance the precision of cloud monitoring and solar energy estimation,” the team writes.

They add that “this predictive solar power data in the smart grid can be used efficiently for grid operation (load tracking) and energy management system.”

Source here.

  1. Wiggers says:

    Ironic that clouds that help to cool the planet also prevent the use of a power source that is intended to… cool the planet!

  2. Russ Wood says:

    As a retired software engineer, who has performed failure analyses on the Air Traffic Control system software that I was responsible for, I’d hate to rely on software prediction of local scale WEATHER for my national power supply! (I mean, trying to predict cloud formation and movement for solar systems, and just straight weather for wind farms). Power has to be continuous for a modern civilisation – anything else would drop us back to the pre-Victorian age!

  3. oldbrew says:

    Lack of power could reduce production of … carbon dioxide. Fertiliser factories have been closing temporarily due to very high energy prices.

    Carbon dioxide ‘threatens food security’ says meat industry
    14 hours ago

    Meat processors are in talks with the government over a shortage of carbon dioxide that could hit meat production.

    Poultry producers said the shortage “threatens national food security”.

    The gas is used to stun pigs and chickens prior to slaughtering, and also in the packaging process.

    The carbon dioxide used by the meat industry is a by-product of fertiliser production, but fertiliser factories have been halting production due to soaring natural gas prices.

    The government said it was monitoring the situation “closely”.
    – – –
    But solar power is supplying 17% of UK demand at the moment, so at least the weather’s nice 🙄

  4. Gamecock says:

    The problem is lack of supply. Dr Devi implies that you can manage your way out of it. Well, no, you can’t.

    ‘grid operators have to compensate for energy drops by bringing alternative generation sources online’

    ‘Alternative sources.’ LOL.

    The irony being that Devi is showing how awful solar power is.

  5. Curious George says:

    Is it really so difficult to predict when the sun sets?

  6. rogercaiazza says:

    The only value of this work if it works is to help the grid respond to solar resource variability. I am very confident that it won’t work all the time and the forecast when it is needed most is likely when it is most likely not to work. As everyone points out the problem of the lost solar energy when it is cloudy cannot be solved.

  7. Wiggers says:

    This strategy is trying to band-aid the symptoms, adding cost and complexity, instead of acknowledging the fundamental problems.

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