This is an excerpt from the Third Quarter 2011 edition of the Wind Program R&D Newsletter.

In July, the Department of Energy launched a $6 million project with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and private partners to improve wind forecasting. Wind power forecasting allows system operators to anticipate the electrical output of wind plants and adjust the electrical output of other generating plants fueled by coal and natural gas accordingly. Industry power forecast providers currently supply wind power forecasts to some grid operators, but the forecasts can have large uncertainties, forcing the operators to keep more reserve generation than needed. Uncertain forecasts can also have financial consequences for wind power plant operators, as they may be penalized when their plants produce less energy than estimated and may receive no payment for more power than estimated.

To improve wind power forecasts, DOE and NOAA are working with teams led by AWS Truepower LLC in Albany, New York, and WindLogics in Saint Paul, Minnesota, to collect data and assess utility benefits of improved forecasting. During the next 12 months, the teams will use atmospheric instruments that include radar and sodar to measure wind speeds and characteristics in the Upper Midwest and in Texas. NOAA will then incorporate the data into an advanced weather forecasting model to provide more accurate meteorological inputs into wind power forecasts.

DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory will analyze the improved wind power forecasts produced by AWS Truepower and WindLogics to determine the economic benefits to grid operators, including cost savings from the reduction in reserve and regulation requirements, more efficient generator scheduling and dispatch, and reduction of imbalance costs and penalties.

For more information and a video on the wind forecasting improvement project, see Today's Forecast: Improved Wind Predictions.