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Clever cloud tracker enters the market

An advanced cloud tracking system that enables cheaper renewable energy by forecasting the power output of solar photovoltaic (PV) 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 ARENA funding.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said 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 said.

“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 said Fulcrum3D was excited to be working 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.”

About Fulcrum3D

Fulcrum3D was established in 2011 by Fulcrum Energy and its partner Orang-utan Engineering to develop, manufacture, market and support remote sensing equipment for solar and wind energy applications. In addition to CloudCAM, the Fulcrum3D product range includes wind monitoring with the compact-beam Sodar as well as solar resource and weather monitoring.

Source: ARENA Media Release

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