Solar power, while a great clean source of energy, has the downside of being inconsistent. From day to night and from sunny to cloudy, the output from solar installations rises and declines. As utilities integrate more solar power into the grid, there are a couple things that can help them manage those fluctuations: one is grid-scale power storage and the other is smart modeling and forecasting software that can help them plan ahead.
Clean Power Research has developed SolarAnywhere, software that can predict solar power output in minute-by-minute increments for areas down to a square kilometer. SolarAnywhere uses satellite images and solar installation data to predict how solar power systems will perform in certain sunlight and weather conditions. The satellite feeds are every 15 minutes, but the software uses patented techniques to make predictions down to the minute.
As Greentech Media reports, this type of tool is especially useful for predicting the output of distributed rooftop solar installations. Installers of large-scale solar projects often provide output analysis, but utilities have no way of predicting what type of power the grid will get from solar panels on homes and businesses. Smart metering technologies that also monitor power generated by solar installations can report current data, but it's knowing what lies ahead that will really allow a utility to balance power loads in the most efficient way.
Clean Power Research has already performed pilot projects that show that its forecasts line up with real-world data. Its marketing the tool to utilities and solar developers, who could use the software to show the potential performance of their projects.