Chile: Improved system for feeding renewable energy into the electricity grid

Wind turbines in Chile

Wind turbines in Chile; Photo: Hugo Muñoz / GIZ

The newly established grid operator in Chile, Coordinador Eléctrico Nacional, will soon be using an efficient, centralised forecasting system. The aim of the system is to reduce uncertainties in the electricity system by providing reliable data. Fluctuations can arise from variability, in particular from solar and wind energy production. The improved forecasting capabilities enable more targeted scheduling of power plant operation and reserves. The electricity system will not only be more flexible but also more secure and cost-effective. The North American company AWS Truepower is currently setting up the system in cooperation with the grid operator, the National Energy Commission (CNE), the Ministry of Energy and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. This was made possible with support from the DKTI project Promoting Solar Energy in Chile, which is financed by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Environment Ministry (BMUB).

Ken Pennock, Director of Grid Solutions at AWS Truepower, explained at a workshop for representatives from the Chilean energy sector, public institutions and the Ministry of Energy that, along with data from individual power plants, electrical signals and live weather data will now also be fed into the system, thereby improving its accuracy. For example, the system will utilise high resolution satellite images to forecast clouds near solar installations.
Christian Santana, Head of the Renewable Energy Division at the Chilean Ministry of Energy, said: ‘We anticipate that renewables will grow by a further 20% by 2020, which means that a reliable forecasting system for various energy sources is indispensable for maintaining the country’s energy security.’ As part of the competitive bidding process, AWS Truepower improved the accuracy compared to the current system by 3% for tested wind parks and 1% for tested solar parks. According to internal Ministry studies, this new system offers a significant reduction in the electricity system’s operating costs. 
AWS Truepower will present the working group with monthly analyses of the accuracy of the forecasts. Moreover, an annual report will include recommendations on how to continually improve the forecasting system’s design. All reports will also be available to the public on the DKTI project website.