New power partnership to improve energy sector forecasts by 10 percent

24. June 2024

ENFOR, Ørsted, DMI, and several other partners aim to improve energy forecasts for solar and wind energy in the energy sector. The goal is to reduce imbalances and the costs of system services that ensure the production and consumption of green electricity in Denmark.

Weather forecasts on TV or mobile apps are handy for choosing between shorts or raincoats. The same logic applies to energy traders and operators who use weather forecasts and related energy predictions to adapt Denmark’s energy system to the current conditions.

Mikkel Westenholz, CEO of the Danish company ENFOR, which currently provides forecasts for approximately 15 percent of all wind and solar energy plants in the world, explains:

“In the innovation project Weather2X, we aim to improve the models that convert weather into energy. By improving the accuracy of energy forecasts by up to ten percent, we can similarly optimize energy production from renewable energy sources and the services that support production when there is no sun or wind,” says Mikkel Westenholz and continues:

“We expect the new collaboration to save time and money for our key customers, who are both system operators and those who trade electricity. These include asset owners like Ørsted or Vattenfall – or electricity traders. For all of them, inaccurate energy forecasts can cause challenges in the electricity system they buy and supply power to, creating unnecessary costs and making the integration of renewable energy more expensive,” says Mikkel Westenholz.

Balancing the system

Weather2X is supported by the Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Program (EUDP) and involves partners such as ENFOR, DTU Compute, DTU Wind and Energy Systems, DMI, Vattenfall, and Ørsted. Denmark’s national energy cluster, Energy Cluster Denmark, facilitates the innovation project, building on experiences from a previous collaboration, the innovation project Eurogrid. In Eurogrid, Ørsted, ENFOR, DTU, and several other partners worked on a digital forecast platform that has saved the energy sector a substantial amount of money.

In the new project partnership, Weather2X, the participating companies and researchers will optimize energy forecasts based on the experiences from Eurogrid – now with an increased focus on open datasets between the partners.

Jan Hvidberg, Lead Analyst at Ørsted, states:

“Instead of extending the world with boards from a single point, you can do it from many points in a region. We believe this can lead to significant improvements, especially in the short term. I also hope we will have even better energy forecasts by the end of the innovation project. For example, this past weekend, we stopped our power plants and delivered all electricity, heat, and system services from wind and electric boilers. This requires accurate forecasts, and we expect to improve this discipline through Weather2X,” says Jan Hvidberg.

Measurements at turbine height

DMI has been supplying selected weather data to the energy sector for many years – a product they have long wanted to improve, says Henrik Vedel, senior scientist at DMI:

“We lack the right type of measurements to compare with, so we can fine-tune our models. Normal meteorological observations of wind are made at 10 meters height and temperature at 2 meters height. Wind turbines’ blades spin at heights from approximately 50-250 meters. Up there, the wind blows more than near the ground, and the difference depends on the weather. DMI has virtually no observations from these heights, either of the wind or the energy the turbines produce, making it impossible to effectively verify our forecasts,” says Henrik Vedel, who, as a partner in Weather2X, now gains access to the energy sector’s observations, including measurement equipment on the turbines.

“That’s one of the main reasons DMI is part of the innovation project. Here we expect, together with our excellent partners, to better predict the wind where the turbines operate. The same goes for solar radiation forecasts throughout the Danish area. We expect that closer collaboration with the major players in the renewable energy sector will lead to improvements that benefit both the sector and DMI’s models,” says Henrik Vedel.

The natural variation in electricity production from wind and solar leads to high costs for balancing the Danish power grid, according to figures from Energinet. Society’s costs for system services and reserve power, which ensure a stable power system, amounted to DKK 2.7 billion in 2022. According to the partners in Weather2X, better forecasts will reduce these costs, and even minor improvements will lead to significant savings, reducing the expenses of a full transition to a renewable energy system.

Facts about Weather2X

The innovation project Weather2X is supported by the Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Program (EUDP). The project began in January 2024 and ends in December 2026. The total budget is 14.4 million kroner, and the partner circle includes: ENFOR, DTU Compute, DTU Wind & Energy Systems, the Danish Meteorological Institute, Vattenfall, Ørsted, and Energy Cluster Denmark.