Power Player

A wind farm can be a significant energy producer, except when the winds stop blowing. Its unpredictable output  is one of the challenges worldwide in harnessing the full potential of  renewable energy sources.

Hear More from Quilong MinUniversity at Albany researcher Qilong Min wants to make the unpredictable more predictable.

A senior research associate and professor with the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center (ASRC), Min is working to improve forecasting of so-called “energy weather,” the weather that specifically affects the output of such renewable energy sources as wind farms and solar arrays.

“As renewable energy production grows and provides a larger proportion of energy needs, supply fluctuations have a greater impact on the power grid,” noted Min. “Better information about weather variability, however, can help managers predict and balance fluctuations in the grid.”

Min uses numerical models and data available from multiple platforms — satellites, airplanes and balloons, and surface-based sensors — to explore weather and climate phenomena. His project to improve “energy weather” forecasting is a collaborative effort with the China Electric Power Research Institute and is particularly focused on harnessing and integrating satellite data.

“Our goal is to provide the best possible specific weather information for forecasting the energy production of wind and solar power plants both for the next few minutes and the next several days,” said Min. “To that end, we are developing a satellite data assimilation system to help provide that information.”