Partners sought for wind forecasting in Alberta

The Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) has issued two requests for proposals (RFP) for a wind forecasting pilot project in the province. The AESO wants to test different providers and methods of forecasting for a trial period and, through a second RFP, find a technical expert to provide an objective analysis of the results. "The intent is to help us understand what methods work well in Alberta and how accurate wind power forecasting will be when we look at various time frames," says the AESO's John Kehler. The trial is expected to run from this month until the end of next year, with the final evaluation report due in January 2008. An industry stakeholder group will work with the AESO to make recommendations by the end of February 2008 on how to proceed. The system operator has completed a study examining various measures that could be used to mitigate the variability of wind generation. Earlier this year it set a "reliability threshold" of 900 MW of wind, or just 10% of Alberta's total generation, until those measures are in place, severely limiting the market. The cap is expected to be reached in the next year. "The way we are approaching this is from an operational perspective. There are two aspects to managing wind variability. One is ensuring you can see what will happen with the wind; and the second part is developing measures so you can deal with that variability when it actually happens," says the AESO's Warren Frost. "So forecasting is a very key part of the work that is being done here." The Canadian Wind Energy Association's Sandra Schwartz says the industry wants the AESO to remove the 900 MW cap while it examines mitigation options, saying it sends the message that Alberta is not open for business. "In other jurisdictions, they are working with industry to determine how much wind can be brought into the system. They are not putting a cap on wind before we even get to what a potential threshold might be."

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