Earth sciences ministry revisiting weather forecast approach to suit solar sector needs


India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences is working to strengthen the weather forecast approaches to suit the needs of the solar and wind energy sectors.

There has been a demand from industry stakeholders to provide weather forecasts on a much advanced basis as extreme weather can impact renewable power generation and demand.

A workshop organized by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, intended to address such emerging demand from the wind and solar energy sector.

Speaking at the workshop, M. Rajeevan, Secretary, The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), said, “Apart from day-ahead (24-hour lead) forecast at 15 minutes interval, there are often queries from the stakeholders about forecast of wind, cloud covers and shortwave incoming radiation etc with a few weeks lead time and even sometimes with a few months lead time.” 

In its 2021-26 plan period, the ministry will further strengthen forecasting activities related to the energy sector, he stated.  

The MoES institutes like the IITM Pune, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), and the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF) have been issuing meteorological forecasts for wind and solar energy forecast to the stakeholders. 

The forecasts have been found to be much skillful on a daily scale. However, due to increasing demand and aspirations by the stakeholders, a need has been felt to revisit the approaches currently being used in wind and solar energy forecasts, said the minister. 

The minister stressed on increasing involvement of the Earth Sciences Ministry with the renewable energy sector by way of providing weather forecasts to suit the needs of the wind and solar energy sectors. 

“We have already started our work to help the industry, we want to improve further….Based on the discussions in the workshop, the MoES will decide upon, and IITM and NCMRWF will implement methods to provide forecasts as per the industry’s requirement, he added.

Rajeevan also highlighted the difficulties faced in meeting the requirements of wind and solar energy sectors. “It needs very, very highly localized and location-specific forecast. A very high-frequency forecast in every 15-20 mins is also needed.”

The day-to-day variations in weather play a dominant role in power generation, distribution, and load forecasting, said Director General of India Meteorological Department, Dr. Mohapatra, adding that “weather and climate forecast plays a significant role and can improve the economy in the power sectors.”

Ravi Nanjundiah, Director of IITM, Pune stated accurate forecasts are imperative to achieve the Government’s ambitious goal of having an installed capacity of 175 GW from renewable resources by 2022.


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