How Modeling Can Save the Planet…

I got your attention, right? Actually, it’s ‘weather’ modeling that can save the planet. 3TIER is driving growth of clean energy projects by using terabytes of weather and climate data to build highly accurate predictive models to forecast renewable energy production. How is this possible? Watch the video.

Still curious about 3TIER and Big Data? Take a Q&A journey with 3TIER IT Director, Paul English, and I.

What business problem does 3TIER address in the Renewable Energy industry?

We address risk for investors, developers, and real time traders in the Renewable Energy market. Renewable energy can be more cost effective and is better for the environment; however, a Renewable Energy project is a 20-year investment at minimum, which poses a large financial risk for this timescale.

Wind and solar power production are driven by the weather, and weather is variable hour by hour. Longer-term climatic variability also impacts how much power projects will produce. 3TIER uses weather science to assess the power production potential of projects and the level of risk risk that the variability entails.  Using EMC Big Data, specifically Isilon storage, we have the computational horsepower to continually optimize the risk model by analyzing thousands variables of weather and sensor data.

What renewable energy markets does 3TIER serve and can you give an example of where 3TIER helped secure investment?

We serve the utility-scale wind, solar, and hydro-power markets worldwide. Our customers include a broad spectrum of organizations with exposure to weather-driven risk, including developers, investors, energy marketers, and grid operators.

3TIER has conducted feasibility studies for over 650 wind projects on 6 continents, representing over 20GW of production potential. In 2011 alone, 3TIER conducted risk analysis that helped secure over $4.1 billion in public and private financing for utility-scale solar projects in the US, India, and Australia.

Can other markets benefit from this technology, like Agriculture?

We service the Renewable Energy market only, but there are other services that use similar Big Data technology like The Climate Group to help other industries such as Agriculture reduce costs and improve yields.

Do your services drive more renewable energy projects? Would you say that 3TIER is saving the planet?

I do believe 3TIER is driving the growth of renewable energy projects through better quantification of risk and hence ‘saving the planet’. Underperforming projects negatively impact the industry, deterring future investments. We can help ensure that investments are made in the best projects, and that these projects are designed to really optimize energy production.

In addition to weather data, you use on site sensor data to more accurately forecast. What are these sensors tracking?

Sensors are put on site prior to project build and stays there after the project goes live. For example, the actual wind turbines have sensors built into them to track wind speed, pressure, etc. to forecast in the short term.

I understand that Renewable Energy risk is mostly driven by weather, but what about other risk factors such as Regulatory, Political, Equipment, Management etc and how do you address these?

We have worked on over 650 wind projects worldwide so we do have the expertise to recommend equipment and its management. Regulatory and political risk assessment also comes from our experience and is challenging to quantify. For example, no one can assess the Regulatory risk in the US because there is no National Policy for Renewable Energy. As a result, tax credits and rebates are subject to change state by state for the next 20 years, which does affect the project ROI.

3TIER operates a Big Data infrastructure with a large, state-of-the-art, Linux-based computing cluster, currently managing 350 terabytes of data on EMC Isilon storage. How has EMC enabled 3TIER to achieve its business goals?

An important goal for us is to provide 24X7 uptime or reliability of forecasting for real time energy traders. Isilon is an amazing technology, helping us achieve this goal. With Isilon, we can do software updates without customers facing downtime. We can scale in a turnkey way without affecting throughput or performance – again, important for real time forecasting and critical in any operational environment.

About the Author: Mona Patel