AI boosts wind, solar data resolution

AI boosts wind, solar data resolution

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Based on adversarial machine learning, the approach, say the researchers, can quickly enhance the resolution of wind velocity data by 50 times and solar irradiance data by 25 times – an enhancement that has never been achieved before with climate data – and will enable scientists to complete renewable energy studies in future climate scenarios faster and with more accuracy.

“To be able to enhance the spatial and temporal resolution of climate forecasts hugely impacts not only energy planning, but agriculture, transportation, and so much more,” says Ryan King, a senior computational scientist at NREL who specializes in physics-informed deep learning.

Accurate, high-resolution climate forecasts are important for predicting variations in wind, clouds, rain, and sea currents that fuel renewable energies. Short-term forecasts drive operational decision-making; medium-term weather forecasts guide scheduling and resource allocations; and long-term climate forecasts inform infrastructure planning and policymaking.

However, say the researchers, it is very difficult to preserve temporal and spatial quality in climate forecasts, and the lack of high-resolution data for different scenarios has been a major challenge in energy resilience planning. While various machine learning techniques have emerged to enhance the coarse data through super resolution – the classic imaging process of sharpening a fuzzy image by adding pixels – until now, no one had used adversarial training, which is a way of improving the performance of neural networks by having them compete with one another to generate new, more realistic data, to super-resolve climate data.

The researchers used the approach to improve the physical and perceptual performance of their networks. With the approach, the model produces physically realistic details by observing entire fields at a time – providing high-resolution climate data at a much faster rate.

The researchers trained two types of neural networks in the model – one to recognize physical characteristics of high-resolution solar irradiance and wind velocity data and another to insert those characteristics into the coarse data. Over time, say the researchers, the networks produce more realistic data and improve at distinguishing between real and fake inputs. The researchers were able to add 2,500 pixels for every original pixel.

“By using adversarial training – as opposed to the traditional numerical approach to climate forecasts, which can involve solving many physics equations – it saves computing time, data storage costs, and makes high-resolution climate data more accessible,” said Karen Stengel, an NREL graduate intern who specializes in machine learning.

This approach, say the researchers, can be applied to a wide range of climate scenarios from regional to global scales, changing the paradigm for climate model forecasting. For more, see “Adversarial super-resolution of climatological wind and solar data.”

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

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