Thursday, April 10, 2008

Managing the grid load from space

Space Mart: NASA and Battelle plan to save consumers money on their electric and gas bills. Using high-tech data made available from America's space agency, Battelle will help utility companies better predict when energy supplies will be needed. Battelle recently won a three-year, $640,000 contract from NASA that focuses on applying high-resolution, weather-related Earth science data to key systems used by energy utilities for short-term load forecasting.

Load forecasting is required by energy utilities to balance supply and load on the electric grid or to dispatch natural gas. Currently, end users of an existing Decision Support System (DSS), developed and maintained by Ventyx (the worlds largest private software provider to the utility industry), rely on weather data that is constrained by the spatial scales of ground-based weather stations.

However, the DSS is flexible enough to accept finer resolution data and model outputs that are uniquely provided by NASA, such as air temperature, relative humidity, and offshore winds. Battelle will lead the effort to incorporate the additional satellite data into the forecasting system. Under this project, which officially begins in May 2008, a customer group also will be formed. The group will provide input on load forecasting, address upcoming data needs driven by climate change, and help guide the transition of results from this project to the nationwide energy utility community….

Electrical grid illustration by Benoit Serrier, Wikimedia Commons

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