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NCAR And Xcel Extend Renewable Energy Partnership

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Solar panels (credit: CBS)

Solar panels (credit: CBS)

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Xcel Energy Inc. hopes it can save its customers money with the help of more extensive weather forecasting from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder.

NCAR and Minneapolis-based Xcel announced Wednesday that they are furthering their partnership to use weather predictions to improve the efficiency of renewable energy.

The Boulder Daily Camera reports NCAR scientists will develop programs to predict changes in wind that could affect levels of wind power as well as major ice events that would require wind turbines to be shut down.

Researchers also hope to be able to predict the amount of energy that can be generated by solar panels, based on the weather.

The prediction systems, which will be developed over the next two years, will provide probabilistic forecasts, giving utility managers data they can use to make decisions about how best to use different energy resources.

The information will be used by Xcel control centers in Minneapolis, the Denver area and Amarillo, Texas.

Xcel said the predictions will allow it to increase its use of solar and wind energy while also providing more reliable power to customers.

NCAR and Xcel first partnered in 2009, when NCAR developed a wind prediction system that Xcel said saved customers $6 million in 2010.

The new program is being funded by a $4.1 million federal grant. NCAR scientists plant to report results to scientific journals to enable the technologies to be used by other utility companies.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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