Solar Power Forecasting for Utility Scale Farms

23 January 2019

Solar Power Forecasting for Utility Scale Solar

Globally the utility scale segment of the solar industry is growing at an exponential rate. And while this is exciting for all of us working toward the solar powered future (have you read my article on this topic in PV Tech magazine?), many challenges are created when operating these assets in our energy networks and markets. One key enabling technology for successfully integrating these incredible volumes of new solar facilities into our electricity system is solar power forecasting.

As a part of our company mission, we have worked hard to enable the hard-working folks who are managing, operating and deploying utility scale solar farm sites by delivering on an easy to use and easy to understand utility scale solar power forecasting tool powered by our API.

Solar Power Forecasting: How it Works

We use some basic information about your utility scale site and connect this data to our global rapid update forecasting system to accurately track and forecast cloud cover that will impact the power output of your solar farm location. In addition to the cloud and solar radiation forecasting, Solcast also employs proprietary PV tuning technologies which apply machine learning techniques to learn the individual behaviours of each solar farm by using your SCADA data.

Our rapid-update utility scale solar farm forecasts will then update every 10 or 15 minutes and extend out to 7 days ahead at 5, 10, 15 or 30 minute time granularity. We operate this technology for thousands of utility scale solar farms around the globe, delivering forecasts via the Solcast API service.

Solar Power Forecasting: How to Get Started

We offer new API users the ability to create a free Utility Scale solar farm test site, which includes access to PV tuning and our live & recent estimated actuals data.

You'll quickly note that in an effort to make solar forecasting easy to understand, we have greatly simplified our data requirements. You will only need to provide your site location, a name and a few basic details about its technical specifications. Once you've done this, the forecasting data is immediately available in CSV, JSON or XML formats.

2021 Update - With the introduction of more advanced PV power modelling tools for Utility Scale sites, we have decommissioned our PV Tuning services - read more here

With the basic setup complete, you can also send us an upload of recent historical data from your solar farm to take advantage of our proprietary tuning algorithms to improve your forecasts. More information about the data requirements is published in the above guide.

Utility-scale solar farm tuning

Pictured here is a sample of our utility scale solar farm forecasting product, including live accuracy reporting as available via the Solcast API. The user can visually compare the SCADA actuals (green) to the Solcast satellite-derived estimated actuals (orange) and the Solcast forecasts (purple).

Solar Power Forecasting: Use Cases

With your solar farm forecasting demo set-up, you'll be enabled to complete your own solar mission. Proven customer use cases include:

  • Solar farm operators reducing their market penalties and curtailment
  • Energy market operators modelling future solar farm uptake scenarios, and then grouping solar farm forecasts over a set region
  • Network service providers reviewing utility scale solar farm connection agreement with high-resolution historical data (5-10 minute)
  • Energy generators applying Solcast 0-7 day solar farm forecasting for the smart management of attached storage devices

Solar Power Forecasting: Let's get started!

If you haven't already registered for the Solcast API, that's the first step. From there, you can follow the guide above. If you have any questions, be sure to Contact Us with the chat bubble at the bottom right of this webpage, and be sure to review the Utility Scale product webpage.

Until next time, Peace, Love & Solar!


Dr. Nick Engerer

Dr. Nick Engerer

Solcast Co-founder • Author

Nick is an expert in the field of solar radiation and distributed solar PV modelling, and has co-founded Solcast out of a sincere desire to enable others to build the solar-powered future.

Read more about Dr. Engerer's scientific papers

Solar Power Forecasting