Aerosols such as Saharan sand dust, intermittently transported to Europe, and soot and dust from large-scale forest fires can lead to false predictions of solar radiation on certain days, and therefore influence the performance of photovoltaic yields. This can lead to shortfalls in an energy ecosystem like Germany’s, which is increasingly reliant upon renewable power sources.
Scientists at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), working together with the battery supplier and consultant DWD GmbH and the solar energy service provider meteocontrol GmbH, have therefore set out to investigate how atmospheric particles can affect clouds and radiation in a project called PermaStrom. The main objective is to achieve more accurate modelling when particulate events take place in the atmosphere, both for photovoltaic grid prognosis and weather forecasting.
“For the investigations we use both measurement data from weather stations and satellite data,” says Bernhard Vogel from the Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research - Tropospheric Research at KIT, in a KIT press release. Analysts from DWD then process the data in an extended numerical weather forecasting system.
As it stands, the effects of sand in the atmosphere are better understood by the team, but cloud formations due to forest fire particles still present a challenge “because the processes in clouds and their interaction with aerosol particles are not yet fully understood,” Axel Seifert from DWD is cited in the KIT .
Meteocontrol is in charge of developing the forecasting system for the grid operators. The German grid operators Amprion, 50Hertz and EnBW are closely involved and supporting the project.