How is IoT Helping Smart Solar Farms for Improving Asset Management?

December 28, 2020

Today businesses are looking for more efficient and durable resources to improve efficiency and increase productivity. No, doubt IoT has already contributed a lot in the development of new technologies and making progress in the organizations. However, the potential of IoT visible today is hopefully way less than what IoT holds within it. The exploration of IoT will definitely turn into ecstasy for every human and organizations.

However, today, IoT is assisting many businesses and organizations and delivering successful and noticeable results. There are a plethora of IoT service providers present in the market to help businesses in improving their process and productivity.

Nowadays, energy production from the traditional way is becoming challenging due to limited resources and pollution caused by using it. So, Solar farms are the new and smart fashion where energy production companies are willingly investing for energy production. To enhance cost-effectiveness, organizations involved in the solar energy industry are looking for improved and effective asset management and monitoring.

So, to end management and monitoring related issues, energy production companies are adopting the Internet of Things.

IoT allows businesses to directly manage the solar panel installed on the farm and helps to detect the faulty devices. Along with the IoT technology, sensors are embedded in the panels for making automated workflow and get enhanced asset monitoring.

Solar Farm Asset Management

Earlier, businesses used to opt the traditional way of managing assets which was indeed time eating as well as less efficient. The asset management required more human interference, simultaneously inviting more errors. Thus, the need for asset management is growing stronger as the world is currently installing 70,000 solar panels per hour, as reported by IEA.

In a smart solar farm, IoT sensors are embedded in every asset to keep a track on assets’ health actively. These smart sensors send crucial information like current location, running status, health and predicts the possible malfunctions of assets in an automated process. This reduces human interference and the need to check and maintain each asset regularly. It even enables connected devices to communicate with each other more effectively and automatically and send information to the requires place.

Leverages offered by IoT-

1) Cost:

By adopting IoT and making the whole process automatic helps in lowering the energy bills and reducing the carbon footprint, which ultimately saves a lot of time and money in the long run. In fact, maintenance cost also slashes down with connected assets.

The introduction of IoT in asset management also provides better uptime of systems. Not just this, businesses can also update their compliance as per the new regulations introduced in the industry. Using effective asset management also reduces the risk of fines and penalties for non-compliance drop.

2) Real-time updates:

IoT integrated sensors embedded in the panels facilitate businesses to get real-time updates. The smart sensors observe vital parameters like temperature, energy output, cardinal direction and tilt angle. The energy-producing companies receive a visual overview of the panels’ output through location and colour. Using visual granularity, businesses are capable of accessing status updates and resolve the issues in real-time.

3) Maintenance:

Maintenance is one of the essential aspects of any business. In a solar farm, where panels have IoT sensors and provide real-time updates of the panels, the maintenance process becomes relatively easy and money-saving. Through real-time updates, administrators know which panel has issues and requires quick fixing. Businesses can detect the particular issue which causes downfall in the farm’s overall performance, say incorrect tilt angle or low energy output or any other problem. Real-time updates also help the maintenance team in taking preventive measures to avoid significant failures and downtime occurrences.

Read More: Adding Operations Performance Management in IoT

4) Predictive Analytics:

IoT-enabled monitoring utilizes past data to forecast energy output and predict the most efficient way to manage solar farms effectively. Thus, solar energy companies predict the amount of solar energy that would be present on a particular day. Companies can also envision the best way to adjust other energy resource inputs for better demand-supply balance.

5) Enhanced Worker Productivity:

IoT helps solar farm owners by assuring the productivity of workers as it promptly identifies and troubleshoots error sources. The supervisor does not have to check all the panels manually as the automatic system sends a notification to maintenance teams about the faulty panel. This decreases field trips, and technicians are free to do more critical tasks.

6) Theft Prevention:

Smart farms located in a rural area can be safer and secure from vandalism, and theft attempts as solar panels have an IoT-based monitoring system included to protect solar panels. Every solar panel is embedded with a sensor that can detect any unusual activity. The IoT enabled sensors can also detect if the solar panel is removed from its place and sends a notification to the operators in real-time.

IoT Implementation and Challenges

We all know that the Internet of Things is only possible through the connectivity of networks of a physical object with sensors and software to exchange data. IoT implementation can be a big deal for businesses adopting it for the very first time. Basically, IoT implementation depends on five components, i.e. sensors, standards, networks, intelligent analysis followed by intelligent actions.

Well, there is no doubt that IoT helps smart farms by automating things to reduce time consumption and cost, there are few points to be taken care before integrating smart farm with IoT.

1) Security:

The biggest concern is of security. Most of the users are concerned for the safety as in IoT all the devices are connected to the internet, making it vulnerable to security threats. This particular reason limits the performance of the systems.

2) Revenue and Affordability:

The second challenge faced by first-time IoT users is that they cost a lot. High cost becomes hindrances for an organization with a low budget. Due to low margins, small companies do not prefer to invest in this expensive technology, whereas large-scale companies welcome it with full potential.

3) Power Consumption:

Wireless devices consume more power and have limited battery life; thus, there is a requirement to develop IoT systems with low energy consuming sensors to decrease electric bill.

4) Network Issues:

One of the significant challenges in panels powered by IoT is that it may fail anytime due to low network in the area. Thus the IoT system is highly dependent on network and it may cause massive loss at times.

Conclusion

It is evident that IoT is providing a lot more than expected in smart solar farms to manage assets. IoT holds a great future in solar farms, and with the decrease in sensor costs along with better connectivity, companies will include IoT at different levels for more efficient results. In fact, data gathered by IoT can also support in taking a right and effective decisions to enhance the productivity of the solar farms.

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