Technical Digest: Wind forecasting - Head to head competition

A contest sponsored by Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), a federal power marketing agency in the US Northwest, will set two research teams against each other in an effort to best predict wind power plant output as much as 36 hours in advance.

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The teams will examine conditions at four wind projects in Oregon and Washington, based on 2007 data. Researchers from Oregon State University and a national peer review team will assess the predictions against actual wind power production.

As winds rise and fall, available wind generation can vary by as much as 1000 MW over the course of an hour in the fast-growing BPA service area, which already includes more than 2000 MW of wind connected to its transmission system. Energy reserves fill any gaps between supply and demand when wind production unexpectedly slows.

The contestants, AWS Truewind of Albany, New York, and Meteo Systems of Oldenburg, Germany, were chosen from a bid process and the winner will be offered a BPA contract to develop a forecast model for the Pacific Northwest's entire fleet of wind projects. The contest is a partnership with the California Independent System Operator, which buys wind energy from BPA to comply with the state's green energy law.

BPA is also installing 14 new anemometers to boost its own forecasting abilities. The $200,000 system, expected to be ready by September 2010, will help to make more efficient use of its hydro backup system, which includes 31 federal dams.

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