Fulcrum3D’s Australian-grown cloud monitoring solution wins ARENA grant

Australian-made technology that predicts cloud movements to help get the most out of solar panels is one of the latest recipients of funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

North Sydney-based company Fulcrum3D will receive $442,000 from ARENA to further develop its advanced cloud tracking system, it was announced last Thursday.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said that the $904,000 project was part of a suite of similar projects funded by the Agency to improve the reliability, and increase the uptake, of solar PV in Australia.

“Effectively predicting off-grid solar PV output means diesel generators can be switched on before production drops or solar output can be gradually ramped down, smoothing energy delivery and potentially allowing more solar to be used.

“Cloud tracking also has potential on-grid applications. At higher solar penetration levels accurately predicting energy generation is important for system stability, on or off-grid.

“Fulcrum3D’s ‘CloudCAM’ forecasting technology takes a clever approach to cloud tracking”, Frischknecht said.

The ARENA funding will help get home-grown technology from the development stage to pilot scale demonstration.

It will be developed and trialled at the 1 MW Uterne solar PV plant in Alice Springs, which is currently being expanded with 3.1 MW of additional solar.

“The project will trial ground-based sensors that can better identify cloud height and track clouds that are layered at different altitudes and moving at different speeds,” said Frischknecht.

“This is a step forward from current forecasting technologies that do not cope well with multi-layered cloud bands.

“The approach marries fit-for-purpose camera hardware with specialised software to predict changes in PV energy output using cloud characteristics and velocities.”

The project is scheduled for completion in September 2015.

Top image via Fulcrum3D

© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson