Wind Forecast Accuracy
by Tom Banse
PORTLAND, OR(N3) - The National Weather Service and TV news departments aren't the only ones putting out detailed local weather forecasts. Regional electricity wholesaler Bonneville Power also employs numerous forecasters these days. In Portland, KPLU's Tom Banse found those meteorologists are paying more and more attention to the wind.
Weather.com might be good enough for you and me to plan our day. But the Bonneville Power Administration says it needs to calculate hour-by-hour how much snow will melt in the mountains and precisely how fast the wind will spin specific sets of turbines. So BPA has its own eight-person weather and streamflow department to forecast power demand and electric generation from dams and wind farms. Meteorologist Charles Ross is one of those people.
Charles Ross: "If the wind isn't blowing and you're expecting it to, that energy has to come from somewhere. Being able to try to minimize your wind errors so that you don't have to carry as much reserves from other power sources is what this really is all about."
Ross ruefully notes wind is the most difficult to forecast accurately. The stakes are rising. BPA estimates the capacity of wind farms connected to the regional transmission grid will double over the next two years. I'm Tom Banse in Portland.
Bonneville Power Administration has a patent pending for this online "windsock" display illustrating the data from 14 new weather stations installed last year. The display is available at bpa.gov/go/windsocks and requires Java Runtime 5.0.
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