The fight against climate change is one of the primary objectives driving sustainable growth initiatives today. The production and generation of renewable energy, such as solar energy, combined with IoT device implementations, are crucial steps in this process. Smart solar energy systems offer an efficient, cost-effective, and environmental-friendly approach to accessing energy for personal as well as commercial consumption.
“Smart solar energy systems offer an efficient, cost-effective, and environmental-friendly approach to accessing energy for personal as well as commercial consumption.“-Ankit Asesh
Implementing IoT-Powered Solar Systems
IoT-powered solar solutions enable the deployment of automated controls to improve the efficiency of the entire production process. Connections, faulty solar panels, and dust accumulation on panels that affect solar performance are monitored and checked in real time.
Benefits of IoT in Solar Energy Production
- Real-time remote monitoring – The IoT-enabled remote sensors installed in individual solar panel monitors specific parameters, including temperature, malfunctions, energy output, tilt angle, etc. in real time. It gives an instant visual overview of the panel output.
- Automated operation – IoT-enabled devices help achieve automation, grid management, and smart operation of solar energy farms. The monitoring system provides automated data logging, tracking of components, and performance evaluation, which was not possible earlier because major solar panel installations were often quite inaccessible, in terms of location and placement.
- Demand forecasting – IoT-powered smart meters collect consumption data that help in projecting future demand using machine learning technologies.
- Security features – Enhanced IoT sensors are equipped to fight against malicious attacks. For instance, hardware root of trust, an IoT security solution by Google Cloud IoT Core, and Microchip provide Security as a service (SaaS) for IoT-powered systems.
Challenges: Initial Investment Cost and Vulnerability
- Upgrading the grid with multiple IoT sensors, data storage, and monitoring devices add to primary investment costs.
- The vulnerability of IoT devices being prone to hacking is another concern. IoT devices are connected to a network, and if the network is not adequately secured, there is a possibility of a cyberattack.
Here’s where smart sensors linked to the production, transmission, and distribution devices allow solar investors, commercial clients, and farm operators to remotely track and manage the operation of the entire solar farm in real time. The data collected by the sensors and related devices are sent to a database with the help of microcontrollers and wireless modules via the Internet. This data can be accessed by different departments operating in the solar farm.
Linkage of IoT-Enabled Devices in Solar Energy Generation
Solar power plants are enabled with IoT-powered devices to generate solar energy. In the near future, these plants powered by IoT-based devices will provide a reliable and effective source for powering homes, businesses, and other critical infrastructure.
The IoT-based solar panel monitoring system currently helps businesses make data-driven decisions and utilize their resources more effectively. The technology enables remote analysis and operational evaluations of the solar plants and pinpoints problems when the system isn’t operating efficiently.
IoT empowers businesses with the ability to monitor each solar panel in the farms directly to spot broken equipment. Sensors for asset monitoring and process automation are linked to panels using IoT technology.
Every asset has an IoT sensor installed to monitor asset health data actively. These sensors automatically provide data on the assets’ current location, state of health, operational status, and potential problems. This procedure lessens the requirement for regular asset maintenance and human labor.
In the IoT space, commercial utilities and the renewable energy industry are rapidly growing markets for partner programs. In one such program, a few companies were evaluated based on their IoT service capabilities, where 61% of these businesses provide services to the energy and utility industries using renewable energy. Looking ahead the number of IoT edge-cloud and big data vendors working with parent partner program companies, such as AWS, Cisco, SAP, IBM, and Microsoft, are slated to increase.
Few partnership activities have been noticed in the field of IoT-enabled solar solutions to provide ultimate solutions for power generation. Companies like Exeger and Atmosic Technologies are collaborating to develop energy-harvesting products that could be applied in the IoT sector.
In 2021, an agreement was established between Helios IoT Systems and AVEVA. Through the agreement, solar energy suppliers have access to more comprehensive, customized, and aggregated information.
In a nutshell, solar is one of the fastest-growing renewable energy sources in the world. Digital transformation, along with IoT, can and will resolve common challenges in the future related to complex solar energy grids and make it easier to manage solar panels and control their energy output.
Firms and startups are coming together and developing IoT-powered devices that better serve their purpose in creating a more efficient solution to support the growth of the solar energy business.