Solar energy management as an Internet of Things (IoT) application
Published on Aug 1, 2017
· DOI :10.1109/IISA.2017.8316460
Photovoltaic (PV) array analytics and control have become necessary for remote solar farms and for intelligent fault detection and power optimization. The management of a PV array requires auxiliary electronics that are attached to each solar panel. A collaborative industry-university-government project was established to create a smart monitoring device (SMD) and establish associated algorithms and software for fault detection and solar array management. First generation smart monitoring devices (SMDs) were built in Japan. At the same time, Arizona State University initiated research in algorithms and software to monitor and control individual solar panels. Second generation SMDs were developed later and included sensors for monitoring voltage, current, temperature, and irradiance at each individual panel. The latest SMDs include a radio and relays which allow modifying solar array connection topologies. With each panel equipped with such a sophisticated SMD, solar panels in a PV array behave essentially as nodes in an Internet of Things (IoT) type of topology. This solar energy IoT system is currently programmable and can: a) provide mobile analytics, b) enable solar farm control, c) detect and remedy faults, d) optimize power under different shading conditions, and e) reduce inverter transients. A series of federal and industry grants sponsored research on statistical signal analysis, communications, and optimization of this system. A Cyber-Physical project, whose aim is to improve solar array efficiency and robustness using new machine learning and imaging methods, was launched recently.