Improved ECMWF forecasts of direct normal irradiance: A tool for better operational strategies in concentrating solar power plants

Francisco M. Lopes, Ricardo Conceição, Hugo G. Silva, Rui Salgado, Manuel Collares-Pereira

To contribute for improved operational strategies of concentrating solar power plants with accurate forecasts of direct normal irradiance, this work describes the use of several post-processing methods on numerical weather prediction. Focus is given to a multivariate regression model that uses measured irradiance values from previous hours to improve next-hour predictions, which can be used to refine daily strategies based on day-ahead predictions. Short-term forecasts provided by the Integrated Forecasting System, the global model from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), are used together with measurements in southern Portugal. As a nowcasting tool, the proposed regression model significantly improves hourly predictions with a skill score of ≈0.84 (i.e. an increase of ≈27.29% towards the original hourly forecasts). Using previous-day measured availability to improve next-day forecasts, the model shows a skill score of ≈0.78 (i.e. an increase of ≈6% towards the original forecasts), being further improved if larger sets of data are used. Through a power plant simulator (i.e. the System Advisor Model), a preliminary economic analysis shows that using improved hourly predictions of electrical energy allows to enhance a power plant’s profit in ≈0.44 M€/year, as compared with the original forecasts. Operational strategies are proposed accordingly.

Read the full article here.