At the age of 30, Carla Gonçalves won the first edition of the international EDP Labelec Merit Award 2022 for best PhD thesis, thanks to her work “Renewable Energy Forecasting – Extreme Quantiles, Data Privacy and Monetization”. The researcher at INESC TEC developed mathematical models that allow reducing errors in predicting the production of renewable-based electricity, contributing to increase the renewable energy sources in the power grid.
Using mathematical methods to balance electricity production and consumption, reducing forecasting errors and ensuring decision support information in electrical systems with a strong integration of renewable energy sources was the starting point for the development of the thesis that earned Carla Gonçalves the EDP Labelec Merit Award.
The research project was developed at INESC TEC, with supervision by João Gama and Ricardo Bessa, within the scope of the European Smart4RESproject – focusing on “reducing forecasting errors in the face of meteorological variability that significantly affects production from renewable energies”, explained Carla Gonçalves.
The researcher explained that the need for forecasting is associated with the fact that “renewable energies depend on factors that we cannot control, like wind, clouds or solar radiation”, also stating that “in addition to keeping energy producers informed about possible extreme deviations in production, I wanted to create adequate conditions to perform collaborative forecasts, favouring the sharing of information between different actors”.
“For instance: if I own a solar PV park and the weather forecasts tells me that it is sunny in my location, my predictions will be optimistic in terms of production; however, if I get information that my neighbouring infrastructures faced a decrease in production because of clouds, then I will adjust my forecast”, she explained, highlighting the innovative character of her research – since it wasn’t possible to share this information between the different entities before.
“This study is innovative because it encourages said information sharing,” she explained. “On the one hand, through models that ensure information privacy, by performing collaborative forecasting, and on the other hand, via a data market that allows companies to sell and buy information – the value of the data being proportional to its usefulness and benefit to companies”.
The awarded research work has already led to a patent, four papers in international journals and two presentations at international conferences; the researcher is pleased to see how her “work is acknowledged as a relevant contribution to the energy transition”. “This award from EDP Labelec is an encouragement to scientific development, crucial to meet the challenges associated with energy transition, particularly to companies in the sector”, she added.
Carla Gonçalves was one of the three finalists in the Young Energy Trailblazer category of the European Sustainable Energy Awards, which acknowledge people and projects that stand out for innovation in terms of energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Created in 2022, the EDP Labelec Merit Award is promoted by EDP Labelec and EDP New (part of EDP group); they acknowledge the best PhD or master’s theses on Energy, to contribute to scientific development in the associated areas. This award was granted in ex-aequo with the PhD thesis by Simon Camal (MINES ParisTech), “Forecasting and optimization of ancillary services provision by renewable energy sources”.