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Palkovics: Research to get priority after weather service restructuring

The National Meteorological Service (OMSZ) has been gradually turning into an information supplier over the last twenty years and research activities, much needed for the transformation of Hungary's energy systems, has been losing priority, the minister of technology and industry said on Friday.

Laszlo Palkovics told a roving conference of the OMSZ in Szeged, in southern Hungary, that he had proposed the organisation’s restructuring, and setting up a national meteorological and climate research service with an increased number of staff. Some 2 billion forints (EUR 4.9m) will be allocated by 2027 for the restructuring project, he added.

In response to a question concerning his recent decision to fire the OMSZ’s leader and her deputy following the postponement of the August 20 fireworks based on a forecast of rain by the organisation, he said he did not want to work together with them in the new structure of the service. At the same time, he said “nothing else is ruled out”.

A local MTI correspondent reported that around one hundred peaceful protesters were waiting for the minister in front of the Szeged University building where the meeting was held.

The minister said a so-called energy transition strategy has been drawn up with the aim of helping Hungary move away from fossil fuels to an electricity-based energy mix. The problem, however, he said, was that Hungary currently lacks storage capacity, though the country’s photovoltaic capacity will double within a few years from the current 6GW.

Palkovics highlighted the role of weather forecasts in renewable energy production, noting that such forecasts needed to be updated every 15 minutes. “If we can’t predict whether the sun will be shining or not, it costs money,” he said.

Ninety percent of balancing energy costs can be chalked up to errors in forecasts when it comes to weather-dependent renewable energy sources, Palkovics said. Whereas the share of inaccurate estimates in Germany is 10 percent, data from power transmission system operator Mavir suggests that solar power plants in Hungary have an error rate of 30 percent, he added.

The technology and industry ministry is able to see these forecasts long before the agriculture ministry which had previously overseen the OMSZ, Palkovics said. That is the reason why the OMSZ is now overseen by the technology and industry ministry, “not because of August 20”, he added.


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