PH.D. Defense: Antonio Lorenzo

    Friday, April 14, 2017 - 1:00pm
    Environment and Natural Resources 2 Building, room N595

    Short-Term Irradiance Forecasting Using an Irradiance Monitoring Network, Satellite Imagery, and Data Assimilation


    Solar and other renewable power sources are becoming an integral part of the electrical grid in the United States. In the Southwest US, solar and wind power plants already serve over 20% of the electrical load during the daytime on sunny days in the Spring. While solar power produces fewer emissions and has a lower carbon footprint than burning fossil fuels, solar power is only generated during the daytime and it is variable due to clouds blocking the sun. Electric utilities that are required to maintain a reliable electricity supply benefit from anticipating the schedule of power output from solar power plants. Forecasting the irradiance reaching the ground, the primary input to a solar power forecast, can help utilities understand and respond to the variability. This dissertation will explore techniques to forecast irradiance that make use of data from a network of sensors deployed throughout Tucson, AZ. The design and deployment of inexpensive sensors used in the network will be described. We will present a forecasting technique that uses data from the sensor network and outperforms a reference persistence forecast for one minute to two hours in the future. We will analyze the errors of this technique in depth and suggest ways to interpret these errors. Then, we will describe a data assimilation technique, optimal interpolation, that combines estimates of irradiance derived from satellite images with data from the sensor network to improve the satellite estimates. These improved satellite estimates form the base of future work that will explore generating forecasts while continuously assimilating new data.

    Speaker Bio(s): 

    Antonio Lorenzo's committee is composed of Alexander Cronin, Matthias Morzfeld and Barrett Potter Jr.