Making Solar Power Generation More Predictable

solar sky trackerOne of the arguments against using renewable energy sources is that the electricity they supply is variable and intermittent. After all, the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. But, thanks to a handy device called a sky imager, predicting when the sun will shine seems to have become a little easier.

Sky imagers, and their algorithms, are the brain child of Jan Kleissl, an environmental engineering professor at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego. Essentially fish-eye lenses, sky imagers capture a 360-degree view of the horizon and generate a 3-D model of the clouds they observe. The devices are connected to a sophisticated forecasting system that uses what it observes to predict solar output in 15-minute increments.

The result? Predictable solar energy generation profiles that will help utility grid operators manage fluctuations and could help better integrate solar power into the existing utility grid.

Learn More:

Solar Power Plant Using Technology Developed by UC San Diego Engineers
Solar Resource Assessment and Forecasting Lab
Professor Coimbra’s Energy Group