"Many people often think about climate change as something that will happen in 20-30 years, but it is happening now, with new heat and precipitation records being hit all the time. Current methodologies that look into the past do not account for this climate variability, but our sub-seasonal and seasonal forecasts do", stated project coordinator Albert Soret from the Barcelona Supercomputing Center.
"Climate change means we will see more and more extreme weather events unlike anything we've ever experienced before, and we need tools that will help us adapt to these changes", stated Albert Soret.
The new forecast is available online and goes under the name S2S4E Decision Support Tool (DST). It shows the global climate outlook, with prognosis for precipitation, solar radiation, temperature and wind ranging from one week to three months ahead.
The DST has been specifically developed for the energy sector, and it thus also shows forecasts for electricity demand, and wind, solar and hydropower production, as well as inflows from rivers to hydropower plants.
It has been developed by climate scientists and computer experts in cooperation with energy companies, taking as a basis the operational global prognosis from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, as well as forecasts from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction. Statistical methods have then been used to calibrate and improve these outlooks.
"The DST is the first real attempt at putting state-of-the-art knowledge from climate research into an operational service tailored for the energy market", stated Albert Soret.
"We have applied novel research methods to explore the frontiers of weather conditions for the forthcoming weeks and months", he added.
Energy companies ENBW, EDPR and EDF are among the partners in the project. They have contributed to the development of the DST by providing knowledge about what kind of information energy traders and other players in the energy market really need, and by customising the interface so that it shows the forecasts in a way that is useful for them.
"Energy trading and risk management are all about decision-making. With a strong growth in renewable energy, the share of weather-related influences on the power market is increasing. State-of-the-art weather forecasting is already key for success in the energy business, and its importance will definitely continue to increase in the future", stated Christoph Elsässer, energy meteorology analyst at German utility ENBW.
Mathieu Salel, innovation strategist at French consultancy LGI - also a partner in the project - agreed, saying that the benefits of the tool for the energy business is "crystal clear".
"In a climate-dependent sector, the more climate information you have, the less risk you take when making decisions", Mathieu Salel stated.
"The DST will also be good for the climate because it will improve the integration of renewable energy in the power supply by making forecasts for solar, wind and hydropower production more reliable, meaning that the dependence on fossil fuels can be reduced", he added.
The DST (beta version) will from 20 June be available online , and will be free to use at least until the end of November 2020.
Despite having been developed for the energy industry, the DST's forecasts can also be of interest to people working in other sectors.
"We have been engaging with many energy users to develop this tool, but farmers, emergency planners and weather and climate analysts in insurance companies could also benefit from it", stated Isadora Jiménez, knowledge transfer expert at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center, and part of the coordination team of the project.
"The wine sector is a clear example. Knowing well in advance if a season is going to be particularly dry or wet can make a difference for wine producers when they decide how to trim their grape vines in order to protect them from the rain or the sun, and when making decisions on how much fertilisers to use", she added.
"In general, the earlier people know how the weather will be, the better they will be able to plan and prepare for it", Isadora Jiménez stated.
In addition to being available online and continuously updated, written forecast outlooks will also be published every month, explaining the forecasts for the weeks and months ahead. These outlooks will also contain an analysis of how good the previous month's forecasts were.
"In order to ensure the quality of the DST's forecasts, the impacts of the tool will be analysed every week. This way we will, by the end of 2020, be able to say something about how much money energy traders could save by using this tool", Isadora Jiménez explained.
"Over the next 18 months we will also organise monthly webinars to explain the forecasts and answer questions people may have about the tool and its outlooks", she added.
Energy companies are welcome to test the tool together with us, and by giving us feedback about the tool, they will in return get expert advice from the people who are creating the DST's forecasts", stated Isadora Jiménez.
S2S4E - Sub-Seasonal to Seasonal Climate Forecasting for Energy - is a project funded by the EU's research and innovation programme Horizon 2020 that is working to make long-term forecasts for renewable power generation more reliable and usable.
S2S4E is coordinated by the Barcelona Supercomputing Center, and the 12 partners in the project come from seven different countries in Europe: Spain, France, Norway, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom and Sweden.
The launch of the S2S4E Decision Support Tool has taken place at Norway House in Brussels on 20 June during the EU Sustainable Energy Week.
This project has received funding from the Horizon 2020 programme under the grant agreement n° 776787.