DOE, Commerce Department Form Renewable Energy Modeling Partnership

January 26, 2011

DOE and the U.S. Department of Commerce announced on January 24 a new agreement to further collaboration between the agencies on renewable energy modeling and weather forecasting. This teaming will enable U.S. renewable energy resources to be used more effectively by business and entrepreneurs. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by DOE and the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will encourage the agencies to disseminate weather and climate information needed for renewable energy technologies that are dependent on short-term weather and longer-term climate trends. Better information on weather patterns and improved modeling of the variability of the wind, sun, water, ocean currents, and other sources of renewable energy will ultimately increase the United States' ability to reliably integrate renewable energy into the electrical grid.

The MOU 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. For example, DOE's 20% Wind Energy by 2030 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.

The partnership will help renewable energy system designers, operators, and electric power system administrators to improve the cost effectiveness and reliability of weather-dependent renewable energy technologies. The collaboration includes a working group from DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and NOAA that will identify areas for continued focus and research and 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. See the DOE press release, the MOUPDF, and the Wind and Water Power Program Web site.