In the past four years, the SunShot Initiative has catalyzed revolutionary advancements in solar technologies, stimulating significant growth and accelerating deployment of solar energy systems. However, as solar deployment increases, integrating solar energy into the utility grid poses difficult challenges due to the variability in solar resource and the impact of clouds and aerosols on surface irradiance. Accurate forecasting of solar resource and its variability at high temporal and spatial resolution at least a day ahead is crucial to large scale integration of solar energy into the utility grid. However, this is limited by current errors in forecasting that are as high as 25% for clear sky forecasts of Global Horizontal Irradiance (GHI), and as large as 40-80% for cloudy conditions. Forecasting errors are even higher for the direct normal irradiance (DNI).
For solar energy to be seamlessly integrated into the utility grid under the scenarios of high penetration of solar, significant improvements in surface solar irradiance modeling and observations of both Global Horizontal Irradiance (GHI) and Direct Normal Irradiance (DNI) are essential to accurately predict power outputs from photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) systems. Furthermore, forecasting improvements have to be closely tied to utility needs and operation timelines. Details about the ongoing research efforts supported through the SunShot initiative and the challenges and needs for solar forecasting improvements in regards to the SunShot Initiative will be presented at the conference.