Solar Energy Harvesting Platform

An IoT Solution for Efficient Solar Energy Harvesting

Return on Investments (RoI) of your Solar Energy plant is majorly dependant on the efficient harvesting of the energy by the Solar Panels. This can be ensured only when the solar panels follow the sun’s trajectory efficiently throughout the day.

Our industry proven, IoT based Sun Tracking system and intelligent software solution is designed to help you achieve the best out of your investments

Our IoT based Solar Energy Harvesting platform comprises of following components:

  • An IoT system designed in a master and slave architecture of trackers to control the Solar PV modules
  • A Supervisory Control & Data Acquisition (SCADA) system for remote monitoring and control of the field-deployed Solar Panels

 

Features of IoT platform for Solar Energy Harvesting:

  • Zigbee protocol for communication between master and tracker controller ensures reduced power footprint. As a fallback mechanism, RS 485 Ring topology can also be implemented in case Zigbee fails.
  • The provision of 4G and RJ45 ensure fool-proof connectivity between master controller and the server.
  • Environmental factors like wind and temperature can impact the efficiency of the solar panels. Wind sensor in the master controller warns the system of unsafe wind speed and the temperature sensors ensure the maintenance of safe temperature range
  • SPA makes this solar energy harvesting platform a winning solution. Solar Position Algorithm takes in Latitude, Longitude, Altitude, Date and Time and calculates the position of the sun along the day.
  • Based on the sun’s angle, the tracker sends the signal to the inclinometer attached to the solar panel to change the angle of the panel and align it to the sun.
  • There can be instances when the master controller cannot connect with the server. The IoT solution takes care of this problem by storing 7 days backlog data in the flash memory of master controller. Your valuable data is never lost when our system is at work.
  • Components of IoT powered Solar Tracking System:

    • Master Controller: The master controller is responsible for coordinating and controlling the solar trackers. The data collected by the trackers are sent to the master and subsequently to the cloud for storage and analysis purpose. Master controller can be connected to the tracker via Zigbee protocol, WiFi and other protocols as per the requirement.
      Master Controller
    • Tracker Controller:Tracker controller is the component that does the hard work. It takes in input from master controller and controls the AC/DC motor drive that in turn moves the Solar PVs accordingly. It has the sun position algorithm, Zigbee module, RS 485, serial NOR flash, temperature and wind sensors and a few other component.
      Tracker Controller
    • Interface for hand-held device /Web-Dashboard: The SCADA based interface allows the monitoring and control of the master controllers and in turn the tracker controller and actuators.
      The web-dashboard is a customizable interface that displays real-time data from different master controllers. The design and navigation of the dashboard can be customized based on the implementation of the solar trackers.
      The multi-functional dashboard can also send pre-programmed commands to the master controller viz. CLEAN, STOW, RESET, OTA etc.

     

    Expertise in Tools & Technologies

    • Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT): MQTT is built for “Internet of Things”. Its lightweight nature makes it compatible with some of the smallest devices used in IoT.
    • Zigbee Protocol: Zigbee is an industry-standard wireless communication protocol ideal for implementation where data exchange is occurring within a range of 100 meters. Its low power foot-print makes it a preferred protocol for industrial IoT.
    • RS485 & MODBUS: RS-485 is one of the most reliable standards for use in serial communication system. MODBUS is a protocol that has impressive compatibility with RS-485.

     

    FAQs on IoT enabled Solar Energy Harvesting Platform Solution

    Q. Embitel’s Solar Energy Harvesting Platform is designed based on Master-Slave architecture of solar panel trackers. What are the benefits of such architecture?

      A. Cost-Efficiency! The master –slave architecture brings down the cost, which will otherwise be incurred in setting-up high speed network connection between the individual tracker-controllers and the cloud.

      Field-deployments of a Solar Energy Project are spread across acres of land. In order to achieve the desired RoI, cost of deployments becomes a critical factor.

      In the master-slave architecture, we ensure that the individual tracker-controllers (Slaves) of the Solar Panels are connected to a dedicated Master Controller (IoT Gateway) through a low cost ZigBee network for local communications. A single master controller can be connected to and handle numerous (depending upon the application requirement) trackers at a time.

      In such a system, the data aggregated from various trackers is managed locally by the master controller. The data is later forwarded to the server by the master controller. Thus the number of connections made to the server is reduced considerably.

      The Master Controller (or the IoT Gateway) is then connected to the Cloud using a high speed 4G connection. Depending on the scale of the deployments of the Solar Panels, we can design a network of multiple Master and Slave tracker-controllers.
      Such a system design not only helps in improving the network efficiency but also helps in optimizing the efficiency and speed of the server.

     

    Q. Does your solution support Over the Air (OTA) update for solar energy deployments?

      A. Yes, it does. We have a trigger-based OTA software & security updating system. The Master controller plays the key role in firmware update.

      The Master Controller checks the SCADA server for new firmware for itself as well as for the Slave Trackers. Depending on the trigger the Master controller updates itself and also updates the trackers over ZigBee.

     

    Q. What if an OTA software or security update affects the performance of the Master Controller? Can this be undone?

      A. Through the SCADA system, we have a provision for you to test a particular OTA software /security update before releasing the same across the system. An update can be tested in selected Master Controllers before updating all the Master Gateways and Slave Controllers.

     

    Q. How scalable is this IoT enabled Solar Energy Harvesting Solution?

      A. Our Solar Energy Harvesting solution can be termed “fully scalable”, especially with respect to the hardware, the software, network & storage capacity etc. Scalability is achieved by dividing the system into subsystems consisting of smaller, manageable units, based on the geographical location.

      At the Site level: Depending on the total area of the site, an optimal network of master controllers and slave trackers are designed based on key requirements such as performance, efficiency, and deployment costs. In case, the area of the solar field increases post-the initial deployment phase, additional devices can be added to the existing network, as per the requirement.

      At the SCADA System level: Data in a typical SCADA system is managed and stored region-wise. Depending on the number of devices connected to the SCADA system, the database can be scaled up to cater to the new storage needs.

      At the Software level: Software scalability enables addition of new features, new control functions or any extra parameters to be monitored, to the existing system. The rate at which data gets updated to the SCADA can also be modified here.

     

    Q. What are the key benefits of using a Solar Position Algorithm?

      A. One of the key features of the Solar Position Algorithm is that it ensures that the tracker aligns the Solar Panel in an angle that provides maximum exposure to the Sunlight at any given time of the day.

      The algorithm uses parameters like the Latitude, Longitude, Altitude, Time Zone, Date and Time related to the region where the panels are deployed. It calculates the position of the sun throughout the day.

      The tracker-controllers use this data and ensure that the inclinometer attached to the solar panels adjusts the position of the Solar Panel for maximum exposure. Maximum Exposure is the secret sauce for optimum efficiency and power output.

     

    Q. What is your data-backup and business continuity strategy, in the event of the failure of Master Tracker Controller (IoT Gateway)?

      A. In our IoT enabled solar energy harvesting solution, the Master Controller (IoT Gateway Device) is designed to hold latest data of up to last 7 days before it is overwritten.

      Thus, in case there is cloud connectivity or any other failure associated with Master Controller, the latest data of past 7 days is available to ensure business continuity and also allow stand time for issue resolution. Once the connection is re-established, all the stored packets are forwarded to the cloud and deleted from gateway as and when an acknowledgement message is received from the cloud.

     

    Q. How do you power the numerous Solar Panel Trackers deployed on the site?

      A. The current system of Solar Panel Trackers uses supply from dedicated power grids. We can also customize the system to work on integrated solar panels for various off-grid operations, to make the system more power efficient.

     

    Q. Will this IoT enabled Solar Energy Harvesting solution run on a 3rd party cloud platform?

      A. Definitely, yes. The local server can be easily hosted on any secure 3rd party cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform as per your requirements.

     

    Q. How frequently is data updated to the SCADA server?

      A. The tracker captures data at intervals of 1 sec. The captured data is sent to the Master controller with ‘capture timestamps’. This data is then forward by the Master controllers to the SCADA system for monitoring. Depending on the application requirements, the intervals at which data is captured can be modified.

     

    Q. What safety precautions are undertaken to avoid physical damage of the solar panels during of strong wind or rain?

      A. In extreme weather conditions such as strong wind or heavy rainfall, the solar panels are brought to a stable, horizontal position called “stow position”.

      These panels can be brought to the stow position either manually (through the SCADA interface) or automatically by installing wind sensors in the master controller.

      Based on the inputs from the wind sensors, the algorithm running within the Master Controller issues ‘stow position’ command to all the slave trackers

     

    Q. Can you highlight the skill-sets and expertise of your team behind this Solar Energy Harvesting Platform?

      A. Our team behind IoT Solar Energy harvesting Solution comprises of:

      Experienced hardware and software Engineers with extensive experience in embedded product development, Test and validation Engineers, SCADA solution experts, Cloud Solutions Architects ,Mobile App/Web Developers, UI/HMI Designers.

      We also have Subject Matter Experts with extensive experience in the Renewable Energy and Industrial Automation industries.

     

    Solar Harvesting: Customer Success Stories

    Find out how we are partnering with industry leaders to create intelligent, fool-proof industrial maintenance systems using Predictive Maintenance:

     

    Related Blogs: Learn more about Solar Energy Harvesting and IoT Platform

     

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