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Two research teams are about to begin competing to see which can best predict changes in the region's shifting winds as much as 36 hours ahead. The technology contest is sponsored by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA).

The team with the most accurate predictions will be in line for a BPA contract to develop a full-scale wind forecast model for the entire fleet of Northwest wind projects. Better forecasts benefit the booming wind energy sector and electric customers by anticipating sudden shifts in wind energy so that power managers can smoothly incorporate it into the grid, according to BPA.

"Wind power is a great energy source, but we could make even better use of it if we could anticipate big changes," says John Pease, project manager in charge of overseeing the initiative for BPA's technology innovation office. "By fostering this friendly competition, we're getting some of the best wind forecasting brainpower in the world focused on developing an important new tool."

This month, one team from the U.S. and another from Germany will begin projecting winds at four Oregon and Washington wind projects based on 2007 conditions. Oregon State University (OSU) researchers will assist a national peer review team in assessing the predictions against actual meteorological data.

The competition is a collaboration with the California Independent System Operator, which manages much of California's power grid. Some wind energy in the Northwest helps California fulfill its aggressive renewable energy standards.

BPA sought bids from wind forecasters and selected AWS Truewind of Albany, N.Y., and Energy & Meteo Systems of Oldenburg, Germany. Both companies must use the same publicly available meteorological data, including records from BPA wind measurement sites managed and quality checked by OSU.

The competing companies will deliver forecasts through December. BPA will select the winning forecast model in early 2010, and could decide to contract with both teams, depending on their strengths.

SOURCE: Bonneville Power Administration


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