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The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has announced a $1.8 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to develop and demonstrate new methods to operate power systems with high penetrations of solar.

The award is part of the DOE’s Solar Forecasting 2 funding program to advance predictive modeling capabilities for solar generation, says EPRI. Solar Forecasting 2 projects are designed to enable electric utilities to better manage the variability and uncertainty of solar power and improve grid reliability.

EPRI’s project, “Operational Probabilistic Tools for Solar Uncertainty,” will use solar forecasts to capture the uncertainty inherent in solar power output. Using actual data from three energy companies, the research will develop a platform that enables new power system operating methods and tools.

The project has three objectives:

  1. Develop improved probabilistic solar power forecasts for both utility-scale and distributed solar.
  2. Design advanced use cases for probabilistic forecasts through detailed simulation of power system operations for three energy companies.
  3. Develop and demonstrate a scheduling management platform that enables the integration of forecasts into operations.

“With improved solar probabilistic forecasts integrated into utility scheduling and reserve processes, utilities could improve reliability and reduce solar integration costs,” states Aidan Tuohy, principal project manager for transmission operations and planning at EPRI. “If successful, the research could help system operators better manage solar variability and uncertainty – not only for the three demonstration utilities but for the broader industry, as well.”

The three energy companies – Hawaiian Electric, Duke Energy and Southern Co. – offer diverse operating practices at various stages of solar installation and integration, including specific system characteristics such as the size of the region; current and expected solar penetration; daily and seasonal load shape; generation mix; and other factors, says EPRI. These diverse experiences with solar may allow for combined results from the project to provide a broad range of lessons for solar integration across the entire power industry – while providing specific results for the three companies.

Hawaiian Electric, Duke Energy and Southern Co. are providing an additional $760,000 for the project in the form of cost share, bringing total funding for the research up to approximately $2.6 million.

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