AESO releases new leading edge wind energy forecasting service

The Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) launched the initial phase of its wind forecasting initiative today by publicly posting a six-day forecast that provides a snapshot of the amount of wind power available to the Alberta power grid.

"The integration of increasing amounts of wind into Alberta’s generation mix requires new tools and practices to ensure the continued reliable operation of the provincial power grid and the fair, efficient and openly competitive operation of the electricity market," says Miranda Keating Erickson, AESO Director Market Services.

"We are excited to be introducing this leading edge service which will help us to accommodate the variable nature of wind energy and enable more wind power to be added to the Alberta electricity system."

The AESO awarded a two-year contract to Denmark-based wind farm forecasting company WEPROG in January 2010 to provide a centralized wind power forecast for Alberta.

Studies conducted by the AESO and other industry organizations indicate that an accurate wind power forecast can help the system controller maintain the critical balance of supply and demand of electricity by indicating the timing and amount of other measures required to offset wind’s variability.

This first phase forecast is based on global weather information and 629 megawatts (MW) of current installed wind turbines power capacity. Inaugural reports will be accompanied by a monthly historical vs. actual wind power report intended for comparison purposes.

The second phase of the AESO’s wind power forecasting initiative is targeted for completion in late 2010 and will see the incorporation of site-specific wind power facility information into the forecast reports.

This will be followed by full integration of the forecast into AESO operational practices in early 2011.

Alberta currently has 629 MW of wind power connected to the Alberta electric system representing about 4.4 per cent of the total installed capacity of 12,502 MW.

As an independent system operator, the AESO leads the safe, reliable and economic planning and operation of Alberta’s interconnected power system.

The AESO also facilitates Alberta’s fair, efficient and openly competitive wholesale electricity market, which has about 200 participants and approximately $5 billion (2009) in annual energy transactions.