ACTIS in SolarPower Europe Digitalisation and Solar Report

High Tech O&M in World’s First Digitalisation & Solar Report

ACTIS Case Study to Optimize Underperforming Biaxial Tracking Plants

The world’s first report on digitalisation and solar was issued by SolarPower Europe, 4 October 2017.  Thought to be the first in-depth analysis of digital technology in solar PV in the world, “Digitalisation & Solar” seeks to lay out how solar can make the most of the market opportunities arising from digitalisation such as smart solar homes, peer-to-peer electricity trading, digitalised manufacturing and high-tech O&M.

The report looks at new and improved business models, the digitalisation of the entire value chain from manufacturing to operations and maintenance, and digital integration of the technology into the grid.

Mapping players in the digital solar space“Digitalisation & Solar” also contains a series of cutting edge case studies from Europe and beyond to illustrate the potential of digital in the solar sector, including:

  • SMA Solar Technology’s ennexOS energy management platform and Worker Information System
  • Tesla’s aggregation of Powerwalls and Powerpacks for a cleaner and more efficient grid
  • SolarCoin’s use of blockchain technology to generate a record of and reward PV generation
  • Siemens’s neighbourhood solar microgrid on a blockchain platform in Brooklyn
  • Alectris’ ACTIS platform to optimise underperforming biaxial tracking plants
  • BayWa r.e.’s infrared inspections with drones for improved performance analysis
  • Alpiq’s Gridsense energy services offering combining PV, storage, heat and e-mobility

Reducing Costs and Increasing Performance

Excerpt from the report:  Digital technology can also be used, particularly in large-scale utility ground-mounted solar, to reduce operational costs and increase asset performance. The solar O&M sector is already highly digitalised, but of course new digital technologies become viable as their costs decrease.

Monitoring systems already measure and process a huge amount of data from large-scale solar plants: energy meter data, irradiance, module temperatures, weather data, string level monitoring and AC and DC side inverter measurements. As technologies mature only data that can generate real value and be monetised will be collected, thereby reducing the data collection costs and making processes more efficient.

Advanced software is also used in the management of operational data: interventions, reaction and resolution times, event types, final diagnosis of cause and cost of interventions (both in terms of labour and materials). This data is used to optimise the operation of the asset at least cost.

Case Study: Application of ACTIS to Optimize Underperforming Biaxial Tracking Plants

Commitment four of the seven commitments on digitalisation addresses reducing costs. It relates to solar operations and maintenance to increase system availability and reliability, thus enhancing the competitiveness of solar.

Alectris developed the world’s first solar ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), a digital industrial platform in 2013.  ACTIS delivers an integrated platform of solar investor and plant owner system management benefits.

In numerous case studies, ACTIS has been the digital tool to determine system failures and validate optimization results.

Biaxial solar photovoltaic (PV) trackers, for example, are technically complex and more difficult to operate and maintain than fixed tracker plants. These plants can suffer from:

  • Control software not designed and implemented to ensure optimum sun tracking
  • Lack of monitoring leading to substantial downtime when operational checks are performed manually through site visits

Alectris will diagnose, propose solutions and then engineer and implement the solutions to transform underperforming plants into sites optimized for performance output through safety control, achievement of full manageability and integration into ACTIS.

ACTIS solar ERPAlectris will study and propose an action plan generally along the following parameters:

  • An intermediate solution to keep the trackers running at the maximum of their capabilities
  • While studying in detail the deficiencies of the construction and control software in order to keep as much of the existing hardware as possible to minimize costs

Consistently Alectris revamps biaxial tracker plants and creates strong results including:

  • Additional generated energy up to 20-25% even during the winter period
  • Implementation of the tested solution within short deployment schedules
  • Estimated payback period of the intervention within 60 days, even during winter days
  • Proper control and monitoring by integrating the tracker control system software into ACTIS, thus ensuring future problems are immediately identified and cured.

Digitalisation and solarMore Information on High Tech Solar O&M

To download the full SolarPower Europe ““Digitalisation & Solar” Report, click here.

Access features and videos on ACTIS, the world’s first Solar ERP, click here.


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