Alberta plans to bring wind forecaster online this quarter

CANADA: The Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) expects to have a fully functioning wind forecasting system in place by the end of this quarter.

Vision Quest Windelectric's Summerview Wind Power Project in southern Alberta
Vision Quest Windelectric's Summerview Wind Power Project in southern Alberta

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The AESO awarded a two-year contract to WEPROG, a service provider based in Denmark, through a request for proposals issued last June.

Kelly Gunsch, the AESO’s vice-president of market services, said the agency made the choice after working with wind developers to review the applications.

This this was very much a collaboration with industry to ensure that WEPROG was going to meet the AESO’s needs, but also meet the needs of the wind developers, she said.

WEPROG will provide the AESO with wind power forecasts ranging from 10 minutes to 144 hours ahead of real time, using information transmitted from metrological towers at wind projects in the province.

It will zero in on the southern and central regions of Alberta, where the wind resource is strongest. However it will take some time to tweak the model to deal with the complexities of the province’s topography and weather patterns.

The AESO ran a year-long pilot project that ended in May 2008 and the three forecast companies that participated, including WEPROG, found their work unexpectedly challenging because of the mountains that run along the western border of the province (Windpower Monthly, October 2008).

"Alberta is a very difficult region in which to forecast wind given the mountains. There’s a lot of variability. So we are going to need to fine-tune the model throughout this year," saidGunsch. The cost of the sytem is still under review, but it will be covered by wind power producers through the AESO’s general tariff.

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