New wind power forecasting system goes on trial at National Grid


  • Increasing wind capacity leads to need for more accurate forecasting of available wind generation
  • Ability to plan for intermittency of wind generation
  • New system will save carbon as less fossil fuel generation will be needed in reserve

A new wind power forecasting system is going on trial at National Grid, enabling better integration of wind generation in scheduling and operation of the electricity grid.

Under the new system, wind speed forecasts will be prepared initially for 34 locations in the UK.   The forecasts are based on the speed of the wind, the size and height of the turbine and weather conditions predicted by multiple forecasts. Using the latest mathematical techniques, the best forecast will be chosen on the basis of recent performance.

The new system will be updated 4 times a day and will produce 12 forecasts per location.  This will enable engineers to turn the medium term wind power forecast into power output forecasts. And as it gets closer to real time balancing of demand and generation, engineers in the Electricity National Control Centre will have more accurate data to make fine adjustments to expected output from wind farms.

Wind forecasting is critical to predicting the output from wind farms.  With wind speeds of less than 4 metres per second (m/s) no power is generated. At about 16 m/s there is optimum output and most turbines cut out at about 26 m/s.  At these very high wind speeds, generation can suddenly cut out, but better forecasting will help anticipate and track conditions. 

Alan Smart, National Grid’s Energy Operations manager said:
“At the moment there is about 5 Gigawatts of installed wind generation in the UK and this is set to grow by about 2 Gigawatts a year for the next 5 years. Hence it’s becoming more important for us to be able to predict output within a quite narrow spectrum of weather conditions.

“As well as better indications of wind speed, we should also be able to more accurately predict wind direction and time of arrival of a weather system moving across the country  Our ability to forecast will improve as we gather all this information and it becomes a growing database for future reference.”

Better forecasts of wind generation output will also help National Grid engineers plan more accurately how much other generation will need to be held in reserve to meet wind intermittency. This could cut carbon emissions as less fossil fuel generation will be needed.   It will also help with scheduling decisions and planning outages. 

Alan Smart added:
“Wind farms are going to be able to offer fast response services to the grid and the new forecasting system will help us integrate this important renewable resource in the best way “

The new system, which has been in development since September 2008, replaces the old “Windy Millar“ forecasting tool.

- Ends -

Notes to editors:

At the moment about 40% of all wind generation is embedded into local distribution systems and not visible to the high voltage transmission system (the national grid).   In order to be a metered supplier to the grid, windfarms need capacity of 50 Megawatts (Mw) in England and Wales, 30 Mw in the south of Scotland and 10 Mw in the north of Scotland.

National Grid predicts about 18Gw of offshore and onshore wind generation will be available by 2020 with about 2 Gw embedded.

Windspeed is measured in metres per second with 1 m/s equivalent to about 2.2 mph. 4 m/s equals 10 mph, 16 m/s is 40 mph and 26 m/s is 60 mph.   Wind starts causing the turbine to generate at 4m/s, saturates at 16 m/s and cuts out at 26 m/s.
In 2010 wind generation provided 4.2 Terawatt hours TWh of energy – making of 1.3% of demand. 

UK map available of existing on shore and offshore wind farm with their installed capacities.  Also a graph of daily percentage of energy delivered by metered wind generation. 

For further media information, please contact Isobel Rowley National Grid Media Relations, on 01926 655275 or 07917 211116.

National Grid is an international electricity and gas company and one of the largest investor-owned energy companies in the world. We play a vital role in delivering gas and electricity to millions of people across Great Britain and northeastern US in an efficient, reliable and safe manner. We believe the power of action can play a major role in safeguarding our global environment for future generations and tackling the effects of climate change, providing all our customers with the highest standards of service through network investment and through our talented, diverse workforce.

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