By Meteo Rwanda
Energy systems across the globe are becoming increasingly sensitive to weather and climate variability. Meteorology encompasses the science of both weather and climate. The sector has diverse requirements for meteorological services to support decision-making for both day-to-day operations and for longer-term strategic planning. This requirement is driven in part by the natural climate variability (including extreme weather events) and increasingly by climate change as manifested through the physical climate and through policy responses to the issue.
Providing authoritative, quality controlled and reliably and routinely available basic real-time meteorological data including observations of temperature, wind velocity, rainfall, radar and satellite imagery is a valuable service needed to underpin decision-making in energy sector. All decision-makers require good forecasts and climatological norms of these parameters where scientifically possible for informed decision-making.
The energy sector has some of the most advanced users of weather and climate information, given the considerable effects of day-to-day weather and longer-term climate variability on energy supply, demand, transport, distribution and markets. As the transition to renewable sources and sector-wide resilience become key priorities for the energy sector, information on climate variability and change are increasingly needed to ensure energy security and efficiency.
The energy sector’s requirement for meteorological services clearly needs to be addressed within the context of climate change. The aggregate sensitivity of demand for domestic electricity to the meteorological conditions is reflected by the use of the measure of degree days. It must also be noted that the energy industry must be scaled to accommodate the extremes, not just the annual mean values of heating and cooling degree days, now and in the future. Meteorological conditions also affect production where extreme events such as floods may cause widespread disruption.
For the producers of hydroelectricity, the occurrence, or lack of rainfall is a major determinant on their ability to generate electricity. For solar producers the key is sunshine hours, while for wind farms thevariable used to assess sites is the mean wind speed at the height of the hub of the wind-generating propeller.
Use of meteorological information by general public
The public generally expects their electricity supply to work effectively day-in, day-out. The times when meteorological factors work towards threatening supply will most likely be during severe weather events.
From hydroelectric power allocations to energy trading weather plays a pivotal role in the energy sector so to meet the high users demands of the energy generation, high-precision and accurate meteorology information is needed.
Use of meteorological information by grid manager
The electricity grid manager needs real-time temperature, wind and rainfall data as inputs to relatively sophisticated supply and demand models, the output from which is an input to decision-making. It is likely that the grid manager would have some interest in climatological information, but it is most likely that this would not be highly important for day-to-day operations.
Use of meteorological information by Policymakers
Policymakers are keenly interested in extreme weather events that impact negatively on supply of electricity. Policymakers will expect detailed warnings of the likelihood of such events along with frequent updates during the lifetimes of such events. They will also be critically interested in the timescales of the investments in energy industry. Policymakers would expect climatological scenarios to be integrated with sophisticated modelling of energy demand.
Use of meteorological information by investor
The investor will most probably require access to sophisticated modelling that would underpin decision-making if the scale of investment were to be significant. For example, at the level of state and national governments multidisciplinary analysis bringing together the known climatology of extremes; some assessment of their possible changes under climate change.
Use of meteorological information by energy traders
From the meteorological sector, energy traders require good forecasts of likely disruptions to supply along with forecasts of heating and cooling degree days, preferably ones that are not available to their fellow traders until they have made their trades. To obtain a market edge, high-volume traders would likely seek a tailored model that takes real-time meteorological inputs and provide traders with forecasts of likely demand that are uniquely available to them.
Weather and climate information play a major role in every phase of the renewable energy lifecycle, from site selection, to installation, optimising energy generation, managing supply and demand, routine maintenance and decommissioning sites.
Rwanda Meteorology Agency provides climate data, daily weather forecast , five days weather forecast, decadal weather forecast, monthly and seasonal weather forecast and is willing to provide specific weather and climate information required for the sustainable development and management of energy sector in Rwanda.