“Access to fast, precise and reliable data will become essential for PV plant operators in the short-term. Highly digitized and customized O&M solutions will be the key to run a profitable solar power plant.” Christoph Neufink, Head of Service at skytron® energy
Digitization is a trend that can have a major impact on every industry in every region. Its direct benefits include reduced costs, increased revenue and growth. With the energy industry undergoing a fundamental transformation, digitization could be key to greater productivity, efficiency and flexibility. We are now transitioning from a centrally organized world of power generation into a system of diverse and distributed generators. An increasing number of solar and wind power plants feed their electricity into the grid. But the more renewable and volatile the power being produced, the more precisely the grids must be regulated.
Currently, grid operators can manage grid imbalances by ramping down or disconnecting a PV or wind power plant. But in the foreseeable future, the proportion of volatile electricity generation will increase and will thus have to be included in the grid at all times. At that point, relevant data from the power plants will be needed, making digitization essential. Neither grid operators nor energy producers can continue to avoid the necessity of digital networking with suppliers and consumers. The basis, after all, for an efficient electricity grid and secure energy supply is the ability to process large amounts of high quality data. Why? Because grid operators need to know how much power is available at any given time. The long-term goal, furthermore, is to replace conventional power plants. For that to happen, decentralized power plants need to be optimally interconnected to secure a constant flow of electricity.
In other words, the success of the energy transition will depend largely on intelligent technologies in the field of renewables.
The integration of solar energy from PV power plants into the grid can be considered as an example for a very complex undertaking that often requires customized solutions tailored to different environments, grids or even market conditions. Optimized power output can only be guaranteed through precise forecasting, which itself depends on the generating, processing and analyzing of important data from a plant and its environment. This is where professional, high-quality Operations and Maintenance (O&M) comes into play.
Currently, one of the biggest concerns of plant operators is the price since remuneration for solar power is less and less connected to the cost of the equipment itself, and more and more with the cost of O&M.
Investors are keen to limit these costs and thus prefer to rely on an external and professional O&M provider like skytron energy. As one of the world’s leading PV plant experts, the German-based company helps plant operators stay ahead of changing markets and environments and successfully transition into a digitized future. skytron energy’s sophisticated monitoring, control and supervision technology and customized solutions allow plant owners to operate their systems profitably from anywhere in the world.
With its recently built Operations Center, skytron energy now provides an extra service for its customers: a reliable digital interface between PV plant and grid operators. The new facility in Berlin is the third of its kind, providing Operations Management solutions to utility-scale PV power plants in all global time zones. skytron energy’s mother company First Solar runs 2 additional Operations Center - one in Tempe, USA and another in Sydney, Australia. They are capable of energy forecasting and ensuring that power plants conform to grid requirements anywhere in the world. How? By combining intelligent software and hardware solutions and its modern Operations Center, skytron energy guarantees an optimal working system without long downtimes as well as fast and secure data communication. The basis for this program is the supervision platform PVGuard®, which is installed in all controlled PV power plants. It delivers precise production data and reports any system errors, which are then transmitted and monitored at the Operation Center in Berlin along with high-resolution weather data. There, the operations manager oversees the incoming data, qualifies errors warnings and decides when or if a service technician needs to be sent to the site. All data is updated at intervals of 20 seconds, and the operations manager can intervene at any time a problem with the integration of solar power into the grid occurs.
Aside from avoiding yield losses through the fast availability of big data and detailed forecasting, the efficiency of the entire power plant can be maximized and potentially lead to a further decline of prices for solar power.
Clearly digitization is the essential key in the energy sector to a world of 100% renewable energies. To stay ahead of the competition, PV plant operators should start the transition as early as possible.
About skytron® energy
skytron® energy has been developing integrated monitoring, control and supervision systems since 1977. Now one of the leading suppliers in the industry, specializing in utility-scale and commercial power plants, it has installed monitoring and control systems in more than 1,000 plants with a total capacity of 6 GWp. The company’s core competencies are plant condition monitoring, power plant control, remote plant supervision, system migration of existing power plants, operation & maintenance and PV asset management. skytron® energy is headquartered in Berlin, Germany. As a technology leader, it has received a number of prestigious awards, including the highly coveted Solar Industry Award for the skylog® Data Logger System and the InterSolar Award for the PVGuard® Supervision Platform and for the StringGuard® string current measurement system. For further information please visit www.skytron-energy.com