Thanks to a more accurate method for weather forecasting, Xcel Energy says it has saved about $17 million, including about $7.8 million in 2011 alone, and has reduced its forecasting error by about 28% since 2009. Forecasts from WindWX (pronounced wind wicks) from Global Weather Corp. cover 168-hour periods every 15 minutes for all of Xcel Energy’s service territory, which covers the nation’s heartland from Minnesota to Colorado to Texas.
The WindWX, developed in collaboration with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), uses real-time turbine-level operating data and applies sophisticated algorithms to forecast the amount of wind power that will be produced. The forecasts are available world-wide and help utilities make decisions about powering down less-efficient power plants when sufficient winds are forecasted, and to optimize allocation of wind resources in the energy market. Wind-farm operators are expected to predict how much power they will produce in the next day or two. If they fall short, they have to buy more expensive power to make up the difference.
“Wind power is expected to represent at least 17% of the energy we provide in Colorado today, as we approach our goal of 30% renewable energy by 2020,” said David Eves, President and CEO of Public Service Company of Colorado, an Xcel Energy company. “GWC’s high accuracy forecasts are critical to achieving this goal.”
In the early morning hours of April 15, 2012, Xcel Energy’s system in Colorado also reached a significant milestone, and served 56.7% of its load with wind energy.
“Wind power production is difficult to forecast due to its variability, and inaccurate forecasts are costly,” said Xcel Energy Senior Trading Analyst Drake Bartlett. “The precision wind power forecasting service provided by GWC has significantly reduced our forecast error and lets us know when to turn up or turn down coal- and natural gas-fired power plants. This saves us millions in production and market trading costs.”
“Our work with NCAR and Xcel Energy lets us provide the most accurate wind power service globally,” said GWC CEO Mark Flolid. “We constantly monitor the accuracy of our forecast to ground truth at the wind farm. This results in millions of dollars in measurable savings because customer has consistently better information to make critical scheduling and trading decisions.”
Global Weather Corporation
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