PV Monitoring is a key ingredient in future global energy management solutions, as it strengthens the link between PV inverter manufacturing and the services provided by PV system operators.
PV Monitoring – an indispensable element for future global energy management
Worldwide electricity demand is expected to rise quickly, due mainly to rapidly growing economies’ high energy consumption. Photovoltaics (PV) technology enables the transformation of solar energy into electricity in a clean, direct way, and is considered an important part of the energy solution for a sustainable future Earth. The PV market is poised for growth; by 2020, it will reach nearly 450 GWp of cumulative installed capacity. PV monitoring helps satisfy PV project developers’ and system owners’ key needs by guaranteeing maximum ROI from PV installations thanks to higher system availability, better performance, tighter safety and lower operational & maintenance costs.
This report analyzes market trends and explains how PV monitoring has become essential to global energy management systems and successful integration of large intermittent PV electricity volumes into the electrical grid. For largesize installations in mature PV markets, a PV monitoring solution is a mandatory element which should be factored in at the early stages of PV project development in order to increase project bankability and reduce costs related to financing and insurance.
New partnerships and M&A activities are on the way
During an installation’s lifetime, a number of companies are involved in PV monitoring on different levels, i.e. PV project assessment, PV system commissioning, PV monitoring equipment and PV monitoring services. PV monitoring’s supply chain is a work in progress and there are still many opportunities for small players - especially for companies working in software and data analysis, and firms involved on the local end (distribution, installation, maintenance, etc.). As this report shows, the trend towards vertical and horizontal integration within the PV monitoring value chain reflects efforts to capture more customers by proposing better, more complete and more geographically-accessible solutions.
The growing need for global energy management solutions provides an opportunity for large multinational companies, which are already looking for small, easy-to-acquire firms that can help them accelerate development of complete energy solutions such as autonomous PV-battery systems, smart homes and smart cities. Inverter and battery makers, providers of smart-data analysis methods and well-established local monitoring companies are the focus of ongoing Merger & Acquisition (M&A) and partnerships efforts.
This report presents the different approaches to PV monitoring, analyzes the importance of having independent monitoring, and describes PV monitoring’s main independent companies. Also presented are the main suppliers of different PV monitoring equipment and solar data resources.
Identifying monitoring trends helps to optimize business strategy
Monitoring solutions for PV installations are in their infancy and will significantly evolve in the coming years in order to address future legislative issues (i.e. safety and grid stability) and unmet customer needs. Through an intelligent analysis of measured data - locating a potential problem (where?), identifying it (what?), and evaluating it (temporary/permanent problem; how critical is it?) - an important PV systems cost decrease and performance enhancement can be reached.Sophisticated algorithms allowing reliable and accurate data analysis from monitored systems can significantly decrease PV installations’ Operations & Maintenance (O&M) costs and help drive down monitoring systems’ costs. Using irradiation data based on satellites (instead of solar irradiation sensors) eases installation site assessment as well as the operation of a large number of PV plants at different locations.
Safety and grid stability issues will drive progressive change from simple monitoring to comprehensive system control and management. The introduction of mandatory safety features into PV systems will boost development of PV module-level devices (microinverter, power enhancement, etc.), enabling the avoidance of dangerous values for DC current and voltage. This report compares string and module-level monitoring and analyses the advantages and drawbacks of socalled “smart junction boxes”. Monitoring equipment components are also reviewed.