Scoping the potential usefulness of seasonal climate forecasts for solar power management


Solar photovoltaic energy is widespread worldwide and particularly in Europe, which became in 2016 the first region in the world to pass the 100 GW of installed capacity. As with all the renewable energy sources, for an effective management of solar power, it is essential to have reliable and accurate information about weather/climate conditions that affect the production of electricity. Operations in the solar energy industry are normally based on daily (or intra-daily) forecasts. Nevertheless, information about the incoming months can be relevant to support and inform operational and maintenance activities. This paper discusses a methodology to assess whether a seasonal climate forecast can provide a useful prediction for a specific sector, in this paper the European solar power industry. After evaluating the quality of the forecasts in providing probabilistic information for solar radiation, we describe how to assess their potential usefulness for a generic user by proposing an approach that takes into account not only their accuracy but also other potentially relevant factors. This approach is called index of opportunity and is then illustrated by presenting an example for the European solar power sector. The index of opportunity provides indications about where and when seasonal climate forecasts can benefit the decision-making in the photovoltaic sector. Even more importantly, it suggests an approach on how to evaluate their usefulness for the user’s decision-making. This approach has the advantage of not limiting the definition of the usefulness only to the quality of the forecasts but rather considering, in an explicit way, all the factors that must be combined with the forecast’s quality to define what is useful or not for the user.

Renewable Energy