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Spotting Clouds

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An advanced cloud tracking system that enables cheaper renewable energy by forecasting the power output of solar photovoltaic plants has entered the Australian market.


Fulcrum3D has sold its first CloudCAM cloud tracking systems to utility-scale solar customers, following a pilot project supported by $569,200 Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) funding.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht says the sales were the latest example of ARENA funding leading to real, commercial outcomes.

“Cloud tracking allows solar power output to be accurately forecasted before cloud shadows move across solar panels,” Mr Frischknecht says.

“This reduces the need for battery storage and informs market bidding, ultimately increasing solar energy yield, resulting in cheaper power.

“Fulcrum3D’s CloudCAM solution uses ground mounted cameras to track cloud movements. The advanced technology can even track clouds that are layered at different altitudes and moving at different speeds.

“There is potential for this technology to be combined with the next wave of solar PV plants built in Australia, including those seeking funding through ARENA’s $100 million large-scale solar competitive funding round.”

Fulcrum3D Technical Director Colin Bonner says he is excited to work with several developers and operators of remote, hybrid PV power stations across Australia to integrate CloudCAM.

“Three new commercial solar sites across Australia have purchased CloudCAMs in the last month, including two Epuron sites,” Mr Bonner said.

“The two Epuron sites at Ti-Tree and Kalkarindji in the Northern Territory are the first high penetration PV power stations in Australia to use cloud forecasting to smooth solar power output.

“CloudCAM has been successfully integrated into the control systems at the two power stations, enabling autonomous operation.

“In addition to increasing revenue, the integration of CloudCAM at the Ti Tree site has seen a significantly lower demand for energy from its storage system, reducing cycling of the batteries and increasing battery life.

“We have also begun trials on advanced sensors, with ARENA’s support, which aim to increase CloudCAM’s predictive capability in utility-scale solar power stations with large geographical footprints.”

Cloud tracking allows solar power output to be accurately forecasted before cloud shadows move across solar panels.

Australian Renewable Energy Agency

The  Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is a commercially oriented agency established on 1 July 2012 by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency Act 2011. ARENA’s two objectives are to improve the competitiveness of renewable energy technologies, and increase the supply of renewable energy in Australia.

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