Thousands of companies and households have already use solar energy, with the dual purpose of reducing the carbon footprint of the planet and actively control their consumption.
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IoTtechnology works to ensure that systems located in distant places communicate with each other and interact as a unit, so it is very useful for photovoltaic plants. The panels that collect the energy from the sun use this technology, for example, to control the accumulated energy, manage the loading and unloading of batteries and offer the user precise consumption data. This is applicable to the industrial sectorand also to the consumption in smart homes-integrated in home automation-, to allocate the collected energy to both appliances and to the charging of electric vehicles.
Spanish company POWEN uses IoT to create customized solar energy installationsfor users. Under the claim “feel your energy, control your energy”, POWEN puts the user in the energy center and offers the possibility of controlling their energy consumption, always having accurate information about the energy generated, consumed or reverted to the network (thanks to the law approved by the Government in April that regulate residential self-consumption). With this model of distributed energy, the energy consumed by people in their homes or in their jobs is generated in the same place by an autonomous installation. This is an increasingly widespread habit that we know as “self-consumption”.
Another example of commitment to sustainable development is the Colombian company Sun Supply, which provides photovoltaic electricity with a focus on environmental, economic and social responsibility. Both the urban and rural population benefits from its solar panels, which are used to power the sensors that control the river levels of the Antioquia region or for the monitoring of real-time energy consumption and the supply of electrical power in apartments, farms, hospitals or mobile phone chargers located in public spaces.
In Brazil we have Origo, which is also one of the leaders in photovoltaic generation for SMEs and companies with difficulties in accessing electricity. This company builds solar farms and rents its panels, installs solar roofs and provides self-supply kits for professional and domestic use. In addition, they bring electricity for the first time to communities located in the interior of the Amazon.
How is connectivity applied?
In general, all these new technologies are based on the sensorization of many elements of technology such as the environment (sun orientation, room temperature, etc). The new solar generation plants have multiple sensors that must be connected wirelessly so that they can be flexible, adjustable and with acceptable costs.
Technologies such as LTE or 5G appear to be a key part of this revolution, transporting thousands of data to powerful SCADA – a specific software that allows to control and supervise processes from distance– to store data on the performance of photovoltaic plants.
All the elements of the installation – inverters, meters, string-boxes, weather stations, security systems, solar trackers – communicate with each other and upload the data collected to the cloud through these Industrial IoT Networks (LTE / 5G). There, they are evaluated by algorithmsthat alert in case of deviations from the expected results, using artificial intelligence or machine learning to optimize the capture, generation and distribution of energy. Through an app, the user can interactwith the installation remotely.
Solutions such as those offered by POWEN, Origo or Sun Supply show us the potential of IoT to achieve more sustainable energy management. The application of this technology is, and will be even more so in the future, fundamental for the development and consolidation of photovoltaic self-supply and, therefore, for the fight against pollution and climate change.