Making use of the widely abundant and freely available energy of the sun, Solar Energy is certainly at the forefront of the present-day renewable energy space. Also, on a global scale, these solar industries are achieving an ever-increasing growth rate. As a result, many large-scale solar plants with numerous physical assets have been set up in remote areas. With such heavy operation, there come challenges of maintaining performance and profitability meanwhile preserving a competitive edge.
Consequently, to answer these challenges, the horizon is expanding. More above the advanced equipment engineering, efficient production techniques and superior energy storage approaches. Undoubtedly, the next phase of innovation will be powered by remote monitoring technologies coupled with data analytics. Therefore, optimizing ROI in the solar space will be a balancing act between increasing performance, reducing costs, maintaining productivity while sustaining profits and achieving economies of the scale. However, the Internet of Things (IoT) offers a technological platform to attain this. And will sooner prove as a significant differentiator in this race-to-the-top. So, we can say it is no longer a question of whether to attempt IoT digital transformation, but rather how to do it successfully.
What is IoT?
The Internet of things (IoT) certainly describes the network of physical objects—“things”—that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies. For the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the Internet. Particularly for the energy sector, IoT act as an integrated platform
- transmits and stores huge volumes of device data,
- perform simple and complex analysis,
- Provides real-time quantified insights to end-users.
The three prime key factors for the development of IoT in recent years are:
A. Smart Sensors: Smart sensors are the hardware attached to modernised equipment that detects physical environmental conditions and subsequently, converts them into signal form. With inbuilt microcontroller and wireless transmission capabilities, it also provides automated data collection, pre-processing and transmission.
Skymet, for example, is considered India’s largest weather monitoring and agri-risk solutions.
B. Big Data and Cloud Computing: Big Data infrastructure provides a framework for fast, real-time simple and complex event processing. This is required to perform advanced analytics on sensor data. Harnessed by Cloud Computing technology, a Big Data Platform allows you to store a vast amount of data in a decentralize location, thus guaranteeing easy data access and security alongside reducing storage costs.
C. Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence: ML and AI are Softwares facilitating information discovery and insights generation. It also provides analytical solutions in the form of Energy Forecasting, Predictive Maintenance, Operations Intelligence, etc. which enhance the efficiency and profitability of energy plants.
IoT in Solar Energy.
Asset Management can be a challenge.
Although it has many advantages, solar power can be a challenge for energy companies in terms of management. It can certainly be a major hurdle even for tech-savvy organizations to gather data from the edge, across a diverse and distributed range of solar assets.
In order to transmit and process the data that they produce and integrate into systems, for instance, their enterprise web platform, these complex IoT applications require significant end-to-end infrastructure. To initiate, you need to connect solar panels to the utility grid. Furthermore, it is mandatory to ensure that your cellular modules, gateways and web platforms are all integrated without breaking in connectivity and data security. However, if your system is fully integrated, this device and software still let you know in real-time whether your solar station is giving required energy levels and maintaining load balance over the grid. It also tells you about any fluctuation experienced meanwhile energy generation in response to weather change and other ecological factors. Therefore, to maximize your grid usage and load all the times, your power grid needs to adapt the above-mentioned changes.
Moreover, when an energy system becomes too complex, it can drive a logistical nightmare for the technicians and grid managers. For instance, it becomes more and more difficult to regulate whether each panel is working efficiently as you increase the number of panels to the mix. Besides, when you’ve thousands of panels in a grid, the potential for vulnerabilities also increase. So, one can say that the security factor significantly drops as there are more devices in the grid. Therefore, to bid bye-bye to this grave issue, an all-in-one edge-to-cloud IoT solution is recommended to connect your solar assets. As a result, it’ll minimise security risk, simply your projects and speed up time-to-market.
Simple, Integrated Systems Are the Future of IoT in Solar Energy
Using IoT in solar energy can eliminate many nowadays challenges, with little investment. The key procedure is certainly to eliminate the complex hardware integration, certification and security concerns. As a result, it’ll allow your business to effortlessly access operational data in the cloud infrastructure, integrating it with the IT systems. Thus, you can securely extract, orchestrate and act on data from your remote assets at the edge to the cloud.
Above all, the greatest benefits of using IoT in solar energy are:
Firstly, you have the authority to find what’s happening with all your assets from one central control panel. As soon as you connect your devices to a single cloud network, you can analyze where the problem occurred and dispatch before it disturbs the entire system. For instance, you may find a problem with one of your devices but the network is operating perfectly. Without IoT, it’s going tough to determine whether the problem is network-related or hardware-related. Thus, with IoT, you can identify issues in real-time, the origin and how to cope up with least disturbances in other networks.
Secondly, using IoT, your system will be less susceptible to outages, productivity problems and costly security breaches. Thus, by installing an all-in-one edge-to-cloud IoT solution connected with your solar assets, you can regulate the largest solar grids worldwide.
Thirdly, leveraging IoT in solar energy can lead to an improvement in power quality and performance. As a result, there comes more efficient energy production, both in terms of cost and logistics.
To sum up
So, we saw how IoT is a timely solution to the challenges faced by the solar industry. Undoubtedly, early IoT adoption will greatly benefit companies by allowing them to monitor and optimize the performance of resources located in widely distributed and distant areas. Thus, significantly boosting the company’s performance and profitability.
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