DOE, NOAA to Collaborate on Renewable Energy Modeling and Forecasting

The U.S. Departments of Energy and Commerce on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to collaborate further on renewable energy modeling and weather forecasting to help the renewable sector more effectively use the nation’s resources.

The agencies said in a joint statement that the agreement builds on reports from both agencies that recognize the need for improved meteorological, oceanic, and climatological observations, modeling, and forecasting to expand the efficient use of renewable energy sources and further integrate these energy sources into the U.S. energy system.

The MOU was signed by Acting Under Secretary of Energy Cathy Zoi and Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D.

The DOE’s “20% Wind Energy by 2030” report, for example, identifies several key research areas, such as improved wind forecasting techniques, that would enhance electrical grid system operations. NOAA’s “Next Generation Strategic Plan” states that NOAA will develop integrated environmental information services for the unique needs of weather-sensitive sectors, including solar, wind, and oceanographic information critical to the development, production, and transmission of renewable energy.

Zoi said that the collaboration could bring together scientists and experts across the federal government to help integrate renewable energy into power systems. "Our ability to increase America’s supply of renewable energy is based in part on our ability to predict and harness precipitation, wind and cloud patterns," Lubchenco added. "Observations, forecasts and climate information tailored to the needs of the renewable energy industry will promote growth of this vital sector."

The collaboration includes a working group from the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and NOAA that will identify areas for continued focus and research and that will help lay out next steps for improving the efficiency of renewable resources and better integrating renewable energy sources onto the grid.

The group will produce an action plan in the coming months that will address improving renewable resource characterization models and methodologies for optimizing system reliability and performance; advancing meteorological and oceanic forecasting technologies, models, and methodologies; defining national weather and oceanic monitoring systems needed to support renewable energy; predicting climate effects on renewable energy resources; and coordinating both public and private sector contributions to addressing renewable resource needs.

Sources: DOE, NOAA, EERE

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