How 3Tier Wind Forecasts Enable the Northwest Smart Grid

11/13/12Follow @bromano

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increasingly global. New U.S. wind project development has all but disappeared in the face of uncertainty about the future of the wind energy production tax credit and the disruption of the electricity market caused by the natural gas boom.

Since becoming chief executive a year and a half ago, Craig Husa has helped refocus 3Tier on the industries, players, and locations that offer the best growth opportunity. Two days after we talked late last month, Husa and Storck jumped on a plane for a two-week trip to India and China.

“We’ve seen a shift in where some of our revenue is coming from, but the good thing is that it’s still growing on an overall basis, and it’s largely because the industry is getting smarter and needs to have better intelligence, which we can provide,” Husa says, noting 3Tier still gets 60-70 percent of its revenue from North America, with growth in solar outpacing the company’s biggest industry segment, wind.

3Tier CEO Husa

That increasing sophistication reflects the financial motivation that has come to underpin renewable energy development.

Sustainability, climate change, energy security—these are all good reasons to develop renewable energy, Husa tells me. “But there’s also the economics. And for the industry to really become successful and mature, you have to have both.”

3Tier, a “big data” company if ever there was one, has transitioned in the last decade from data generation to data mining—crunching through global weather models produced by the likes of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, the National Weather Service, and other governments.

Combined with hundreds of other forecasts and bits of information ranging from local topography to wind equipment characteristics and wind farm layout, 3Tier produces customized short- and long-term variability and risk analysis for customers with financial stakes in wind and solar energy production.

“The magic is being able to coax out something that is intelligent and actually actionable,” Husa says.

Benjamin Romano is editor of Xconomy Seattle. Email him at bromano [at] xconomy.com. Follow @bromano

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