In the last two decades, we have seen governments all over the world push for reducing greenhouse gases and reliance on fossil fuels. There’s heightened awareness among the population about the harmful effects of fossil fuels on global warming and climate change.
Countries all over the world are offering subsidies for green energy solutions like solar and wind farms. Many companies are making significant investments in the sector both to cut down on their energy costs as well as to become more carbon neutral.
But solar farms require careful management to get the best results. While there is good ROI on solar energy, the equipment is costly and there is a significant initial investment involved. Without proper care, the equipment may not yield good results and can even cost you more resources over time.
With IoT remote monitoring solutions, businesses can better manage their solar farms and improve their ROIs.
In this article, we explore the challenges of asset management in solar farms and how the internet of things can help.
What are the challenges of asset management in solar farms?
Solar farms take significant resources and skills to manage effectively. These are some of the common challenges associated with managing solar farms:
- Output from solar farms varies with environmental conditions
- Solar panels need regular monitoring and maintenance
- Risk of vandalism and theft
- Lack of visibility in the solar energy system
Output from solar farms varies with environmental conditions
The most difficult aspect of managing a solar farm is to predict and maximize the energy output. While the efficiency of solar panels has certainly increased over the last two decades, there’s still considerable variation in energy output with every season, temperature, time of day, and weather condition.
It is not an easy task to configure solar panels to get the maximum output when there are too many variables involved.
Solar panels need regular monitoring and maintenance
Recent advances in technology have made solar panels more robust, but they still need considerable maintenance. Accumulation of dust, corrosion between connections, and disturbances from wildlife can make solar panels less efficient.
Add this to the fact that a 1MW solar farm will have around 3125 solar panels spread around 4 acres of land and the depth of the problem becomes more apparent.
Risk of vandalism and theft
Solar panels and the associated equipment are very expensive and damage to even one or two panels can affect the ROI. Most farms manually keep track of the panels or deploy security teams, but the large size of solar farms and the sheer number of panels make it a difficult task.
Lack of visibility into the system
Solar farm operators struggle to get good visibility into their systems. While it’s fairly straightforward to collect total energy output data, it’s not easy to understand the status of individual panels or the energy output from them.
If the operators notice lower-than-expected energy production, they’ll have to go through each piece of equipment and network to identify the root cause.
How can IoT remote monitoring solutions help manage assets in a solar farm?
For starters, solar farm operators can get more visibility into their systems with IoT sensors. With these sensors, operators can keep track of environmental conditions like temperature, humidity, light intensity, and even shocks and vibrations around individual solar panels.
Operators can get real-time data and updates about the status of individual solar panels and take action if necessary.
The sensor data can also reveal insights into the condition of the solar panels. Traditional maintenance practices require a lot of resources and may not be efficient enough. With advanced predictive maintenance algorithms, operators can use sensor data to predict when a solar panel may need maintenance.
IoT remote monitoring solutions can also keep track of assets in a solar farm. If they’re disturbed, disconnected, or otherwise damaged because of vandals or environmental forces, these systems can alert the personnel on site. They can in turn take quick action to mitigate the damages and keep the operation running.
Benefits of using IoT monitoring solutions for asset management in solar farms
Here are some of the benefits of using IoT monitoring solutions for asset management in solar farms
- Reduced cost of ownership
- Less risk of equipment damage
- Better visibility into the solar farm
Let’s dive into these in detail:
Reduced cost of ownership
With IoT remote monitoring, solar farm operators can better manage the cost of their equipment. IoT sensors offer granular data that can help operators make economical decisions about their equipment. For instance, instead of conducting unnecessary and expensive regular maintenance, operators can conduct them only when the equipment needs it.
They can also make data-centric decisions about upgrading or discarding different pieces of equipment in the solar farm.
Less risk of equipment damage
IoT sensors can help operators manage the risk of equipment damage from wildlife, vandals, or thieves. These sensors can provide real-time updates about equipment status and even track them throughout the farm. If any of the equipment parameters — energy production levels or equipment location — go outside of predefined values, the system can automatically raise alarms.
Better visibility into the solar farm
With IoT sensors, solar farm operators can get better insight into their devices. They can keep track of the output from individual panels and their status and if there are any issues, they can quickly find the root cause.
Want to improve the ROI of your solar farm? Reach out to Bridgera for custom remote monitoring solutions
Bridgera is a global pioneer in custom remote monitoring solutions for industries across the globe. We have the talent and expertise to identify your pain points and leverage the internet of things to resolve them.
Take your solar farm operations to the future with custom IoT solutions from Bridgera. Contact us now and let’s discuss how our IoT platform can add value to your business.